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Design Thinking for the kitchen

Creating business value by design

​Fissler asked us to develop a new and distinct product portfolio of kitchen tools relevant to amateur chefs globally. We created a range of kitchen tools that deliver on insights gained from a multi-faceted, custom tailored design thinking development process. Beyond new functions and features, a new award winning, brand-relevant design language based on a clean, seamless aesthetic and globally functional ergonomics was created. This is a wrap-up of our approach:


“The response to the ‘Q!’ line has been extremely positive: not only are these kitchen tools very attractive, they are also highly innovative in how they function. Q! will help strengthen Fissler‘s position as the innovation leader in the premium and luxury cookware business.”

Markus H. Kepka, CEO, FISSLER GmbH

if product design award 2014 for studiomem
red dot product design award for studiomem
german design award 2015 for studiomem

The innovation challenge: As old as mankind

As we were building our approach, we were quickly humbled by the realization that kitchen tools illustrate humankind's evolution at almost every step of the way: e.g. historic illustrations of French kitchen tools from the 18th century revealed an overwhelming variety of tools and their variants, analogous to the proliferation of French Cuisine during that period. It also became clear that we needed to look for insights and inspiration not only in amateur and professional kitchens, but in areas that depend on the intense usage of hand-held tools as well, such as surgery, gardening or shop tools.

At the same time we devised a series of cross-functional design thinking workshops, that would tap the knowledge and experience of Fisslers in-house development, marketing and sales teams and deliver relevant innovation.

See more design thinking projects from studiomem: 

Gaggenau - Design Thinking for large Kitchen Appliances, Melitta Caffeo II - Design thinking for Kitchen AppliancesPARIBoy- Design Thinking for healthcare at home, Autoscout24- Innovating along the customer journey

prototyping kitchen tools
design thinking workshop by studiomem for fissler
user observation by studiomem for fissler

User observation:

Ethnography in the professional kitchen


Ethnography with professional chefs revealed that many of them constantly buy, use and discard cheap, stamped metal kitchen tools. These one-piece tools without parting lines are considered the most hygienic solution, since they do not trap bacteria. Under the extreme conditions of commercial kitchens the average tool is replaced at a rate of one per week. Not environmentally friendly at all.

Acting on this user insight, a key feature in the premium tools we created is the seamless stainless steel handle. Its ergonomic, conical shape elegantly accommodates all hand sizes – from a larger European male hand to a smaller Asian female hand.

Experimentation and Prototyping:

Cooking with a drywall rasp


Starting out, we interviewed stakeholders from Fissler’s sales and product organizations and from its development teams regarding which improvements they would be expecting. But then, we turned to observation and experimental methods with the actual target group: We made chefs and foodies cook with substitute, non-kitchen tools such as gardening, surgical and home improvement tools. This exercise generated the ideas for the re-design of the kitchen tools portfolio.

An example is the combination of silicone and steel, which allowed for new functionalities. The adjustable silicone spout on the mixing bowl allows for more precise pouring and the flexible silicone edges of the ladle adapt perfectly to wipe the last bit of sauce from the bottom of a pot.

The revealing power of user observation – three examples from this project:​


  • While a chef was enthusiastic about his beloved four-sided grater, we noticed that he never used more than one of the four sides.

  • While a professional chef was raving about the descaling tool he was using, our valuable observation was that he used a bucket to elevate his work surface to a more comfortable height.

  • Another chef had screwed a bottle cap onto a wooden board, creating a tool to rapidly descale fish.

Defining a global kitchen tool product portfolio


Based on our research phase, we developed a portfolio of 40+ globally relevant product propositions and descriptions. We defined the most desirable features and functionalities per product and then benchmarked these against the best existing market players. We also ranked the innovation and market potential for each product in the portfolio. After endorsement by Fissler’s board of management, it formed the briefing for the subsequent design and iteration phase.

design language for kitchen tools
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