The Ideas Sharpener_ a tangible user interface for the “domestic working landscape”

After 4 weeks of TUI, me and Elena are proud to introduce our Ideas Sharpener, a tool that support informal working behaviors in the home office, making them valuable and recognizable from the outside.

The user research we conducted with *Anna*, writer and editor,  showed us how the home-office environment suits the emergence of informal working patterns.

She has different times and spaces of work flow and she succeeds in making them compatible with the heterogeneous organization of her house. This allows her to commute fluidly among spaces according to her process of generating ideas. She uses the digital space of internet as an extension of her own working environment, where she can provoke informal collaboration based on coincidences by posting an idea on Facebook and waiting for people comments and inspirations.

When she needs high concentration, she works in the studio, while when she wants to get more inspiration, she either goes to the kitchen and starts chopping vegetables or goes out for a walk. To unfocus first, as she likes to describes it, works as her best way to be able to focus again and  keep on her working flow.

The informal working behaviors she has developed inside/outside of the HomeOffice is particularly interesting for us in the extent that they were contaminated and mixed with already existing household and lifestyle pattern. We believe that this could be an interesting design opportunity to be explored since more and more people, from a bigger variety of work areas, have been choosing to set their office at home, thanks to the domestic diffusion of technology. With our design, we would like to address the informal work flow that this particular group of people develops around themselves, maybe bringing it to some extreme scenarios to stimulate reflections around the topic of the “domestic working landscape”.

For this project, our aim has been to create an object to support informal working behaviors, like *Anna*’s and those users’ with similar tendencies, and make those working moments recognizable from the outside.

To achieve this, we have built a device that could support and enhance the ideas generation when the user is not “formally” working in front of the computer, but in the kitchen chopping vegetables or having a walk outside.

It  consists of a recording device that help the user in the vegetable chopping brainstorm and that could be carried with the user during the regenerative walks.

The records stored by the device will then be downloaded on the computer, producing a working sheet that literally maps all the ideas generated during the informal working process according to geolocation coordinates.


The Ideas Sharpener is made from porcelain and wood, materials that belong to the domestic environment

The Grater module to chop vegetable is in metal and wood. The wood part contains the connections for plugging the cone

The cone plugs to the Grater module like a kitchen robot (blender/mixer for example)

During the exhibition me and Elena decided to stage the Ideas Sharpener and act around it

Unfocus first to focus more… chopping chopping chopping chopping…

MMM…something popping up in my mind!

Just recorded a thought in the Ideas Sharpener while chopping a cucumber

The recorded thoughts can be downloaded on the computer by plugging the cone to the desk module

When you are traveling and you carry the Ideas Sharpener with you, you can protect it by putting it in the inflatable cover provided with a recharging plug

Elena explained the computer application and pdf generation of the “working sheet” to interested people (alias possible users!)

The working sheet pdf generated by the Ideas Sharpener

Thanks to Jacek, Pedro and Isach for the pics.


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