Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Visual and Performing Arts
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Art and Design | Industrial and Product Design
Design Challenge How do you get 4-8 year olds to understand their food allergy well enough to communicate it to others? When parents learn their child has a food allergy, for them, it is a stressful, life-changing discovery. For the child, this knowledge has no meaning, yet. Here, there is the opportunity to break down connotations associated with allergies. Through design intervention, this book explores the possibilities of transforming food from problems into assets. For instance, Superman might be “allergic” to kryptonite, but he also has superpowers. Rather than label the child with allergies, why not rebrand allergies to turn a perceived negative circumstance into a relatively positive one? There is a moment when a child with food allergies needs to leave their parent’s side for the first time to go to kindergarten. They are plunged into a world of rules and expectations. That alone can be overwhelming for a developing mind, but to add the challenge of having a food allergy on top of it all makes this day all the more intense. The project looks to redesign the overall food allergy experience for both children and their parents, from the moment a parent has that life-changing conversation with their child to when the child is eating lunch at school everyday with their peers. Research for this project was a combination of listening the stories of those people affected by food allergies, gathering literature on the topic of food allergies, market research, and reaching out to professionals with insight into various related topics, such as teachers, librarians, and doctors. The design process was a cycle of sketching, creating, testing, analyzing, refining, and repeat. The idea of having a system of objects that work together to reinforce a narrative began in early design stages. The design process then became about developing a character to use as a vehicle for communicating to children. Wolfelopes are fictional creatures, part wolf, part antelope, designed specifically for this project. In the end, the final prototypes included a children’s book, The Wolfelopes: An Allergy Adventure, a character-based lunch box, and packaging. Each object addresses different design goals, but when they come together, an larger story is created. The collection of objects work together to rewrite the experience children and parents have of learning about and coping with food allergies. The Wolfelopes, the book is meant to be used as a tool by parents to help introduce food allergies to their child. The book can then be brought to show-and-tell and shared with the class. This will help the child with food allergies learn to communicate their allergy to their teachers and peers. While the wolfelope lunch box functions as a toy for the child, it is also a physical representation of a parent’s effort to prepare their child for the world. Further the lunch box signals to carers (i.e. teachers) which students might have food allergies. Since the design works to associate these characters with food allergies, the child will subtly adopt the habit of being conscious of their food allergy during meal times. The book and the lunch box are packaged in a box that, when opened, becomes a toy tray and a poster. The intention of having the revelation of the dominant objects be a process reminiscent of receiving a present is to attach positive connotations to The Wolfelope Kit. In conclusion, these objects each play a role in empowering children with food allergies by turning a perceived flaw into an asset.
O'Neil, Alexandra Marin, "Wayward Nosh" (2014). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 723.
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