It never ceases to amaze me the role that food plays in our work. Years ago we were meeting with clients to kick off a new project. After meeting with staff, we had lunch with a representative group of residents, including the president of their resident council.
This gentleman came prepared and was obviously looked upon by the other residents as their spokesman. He began to prioritize his major points of discussion into three categories. First, was the need for a constant quality of food. His major complaint was that in the last reorganization of the dining services, the group that provides the kitchen equipment provided a new ice cream freezer/dispenser that only provided room for four flavors from which to choose, instead of the six he was accustomed. He conceded that this seemed harmless enough a decision, but he claimed that many of the residents, including himself, were quite upset. In my head, I imagined a group of senior citizens tipping over the ice cream cart in protest, like a modern day, yet slower moving, Boston Tea Party.
But then I thought about how I like my ice cream, and while I never have 6 different flavors in my freezer at once, I do panic when we are running low. So I can understand this gentleman’s dilemma.
Consequently, the gentlemen got so impassioned about his first point, that he had to struggle to remember the other two points, which I would have thought would have been more important than ice cream: how much is this going to cost the resident and will there be improvements done such that the residents living there now will be alive to enjoy them. Just goes to show you that very trivial seeming decisions can affect the relationship a designer has with the residents.