Project 1: The Problem With Lunch

Observation, sketching and ideation form a core of design practice. P1 warms us up with these skills.


Make sure you've familiarized yourself with Project 0 and gathered any necessary materials.


Every day for five days, go to a different eatery on and off campus during the height of the lunch rush. You do not have to eat there, but you do need to note (in your sketchbook) the flow of people and any problem areas or areas of opportunity.

Suggested drawings:

  • A map of the space
  • Postures of people showing emotion: use the sketching techniques for people we taught in class
  • A map of the space accented narking where trouble occurs
  • Sketches of anything unusual a given restaurant is doing (good or bad)

You also need to talk to one or two people each day, and then sketch their mental model of how they think about lunch.


  • Bike, Marguerite, Lyft, etc., to get off campus. University Avenue, California Avenue, Castro Street in Mountain View are all great options.
  • Have a point of view on what you are drawing. You are not trying to imitate a camera taking in everything. Think about what are the important details you might want to highlight or remember and how to capture those.
  • If you have class or sports during lunch, you can dinner or another rush-hour. Ask staff for advice.

Bring your in-progress observations to the first studio (Wednesday/Thursday).

Synthesize (In class activity in Studio 1 + Homework)

We will review the notes that you took from your restaurant visits in small groups and synthesize them into a point of view on the lunch rush. What are the unmet needs during lunch? What need will you work on? Clearly define the problem that you are going to address. Deliverable will be a short (100-200 words) problem statment of what you think is broken and why it's worth fixing. Include any relevant images. Do NOT write about solutions.

Homework: Complete your observations and then run your own synthesis session. Need a refresher? See this article.

Start a PDF documenting

  • Sketches from the five days of observation
  • Photo of your synthesis work. see this article for more ideas!
  • A molecule 2/3 filled out (template!) PERSON and PROBLEM no solution yet.
    Be sure to fill out the lines with a clear person & problem statement.
    Who are you fixing what problem for?
    "I talked with/observed X and was amazed that they face big problem Y!"

    This is your documentation work. If will be due with the rest of P1 on Jan 22. Start now, and don't be surprised later!

    For Studio: Bring the problem statement with you to the Wednesday/Thursday studio 2 in Week 2.

Ideate (In Class + Homework)

Based on the studio exercises, come up with 25 micro ideas (post-its), then flesh out 5 (index cards), then draw one in detail. We will critique your final submissions in the first studio of week three (Monday/Tuesday).

Homework: Finish fleshing out your ideas. Consider how you will communicate them. A map and call outs? Storyboard and scenes?

Hint: "Give a problem to an architect and you'll get a building for a solution"—Herb Caen.
Question: is the solution always an app?


A PDF with ALL your ideas documented in a photo and captions explaining your process. Remember in math when you were annoyed because the teacher asked you to show your work? Welcome to design. You always show your work.

Documentation contents:

  • Observation: Your documentation of the opportunity space (the sketches of the restaurants as they are now)
  • Synthesis: Short description (~250 words) of the problem you decided to explore
  • Ideation: Short description of the solution you ended up choosing, and why. Include full molecule, and sketches illustrating final solution as well as ideas that led to it.
    Include photos of your process You are telling a story of your reasoning. Images of sythesis and ideation with callouts explaining what we are looking at increases the strength of your arguments and clarifies your thoughts.
    Read this to get a strong start.
  • Bring to studio 3A: One molecule of the problem you identified and 1-3 drawings of it. Hang on wall. Prepare a list of 3-5 open questions/concerns you have about your design choices.

Submit on Canvas.

Grading rubric

We will be very generous in our grading regarding sketching quality (since you are new) but we do want to see complete thought out work.

Category Scores
[1 / 7pts]
Observations are very limited in volume, do not have a point of view, or are not captured in sketches
[3 / 7pts]
Observations are limited in volume, rarely have a point of view, or are not effectively captured in sketches
[5 / 7pts]
Observations are moderately diverse, occasionally have a point of view, or are moderately effectively captured in sketches
[7 / 7pts]
Observations are diverse, take a point of view, and are captured effectively in sketches
[1 / 7pts]
Problem statement is unclear or inappropriate
[3 / 7pts]
Problem statement is questionably grounded in the observations
[5 / 7pts]
Problem statement synthesizes the observations into an appropriate, but not entirely novel, point of view
[7 / 7pts]
Problem statement synthesizes the observations into a novel point of view
[1 / 7pts]
Micro ideas, index card ideas, and final detail idea are insufficient or incomplete
[3 / 7pts]
Micro ideas, index card ideas, and final detail idea do not clearly convey design concepts or do not effectively address the problem statement
[5 / 7pts]
Micro ideas, index card ideas, and final detail idea communicate their ideas at a basic level or only somewhat adequately address the problem statement
[7 / 7pts]
Micro ideas, index card ideas, and final detail idea are clearly communicated and effectively address the problem statement

If any of the deliverables are missing, we will reduce your score by 25% per deliverable.