Oven of the Future
Turbochef Wall Oven
“The oven has 500 pre- programmed cook settings and recipes ... [It's] easy to navigate and can produce a savory, three-course meal in 10 minutes.”
Turbochef has long been established in commercial kitchens with its "speed cook" ovens that can cook up to 20 times faster than conventional appliances. Think roast turkey in under 30 minutes, and chocolate soufflé in two instead of 25 minutes. The company came to frog because they wanted to enter the home market with a bang—they wanted to create an immediately recognizable premium product—but they also wanted to avoid the pitfalls of earlier attempts by competitors. (Speed cook ovens are more complex to operate than conventional ones, which has turned off consumers.)
Understanding the Modern Home Cook
Being new to the consumer market, Turbochef needed an in-depth understanding of how and why people cook today. frog conducted in-home visits with a spectrum of people to understand how they approached cooking with their busy lives and what role the oven played. We spent time in boutique appliance stores to understand how people shopped for ovens, and took group cooking lessons to find out why women in their forties were getting back into the kitchen with gusto.
With its combination of convection, microwave, and jets of very hot air, the Turbochef oven is indeed fast, but we learned from users that speed is not always desirable (people want to leave the Thanksgiving turkey in all day). And speed has a price: The blackened biscuits that came from our first attempts at using existing speed cook ovens showed us that they're more like Formula 1 cars than regular ovens—very fast, but unforgiving if you’re not paying attention. People's typical mental model of ovens is that they're simple and pretty foolproof.
Simplicity is King
Simplicity of use became the driving force behind every design decision. Because people are imprinted with the simple temperature and mode (bake, broil, etc.) knobs of conventional ovens we gave the Turbochef a similar analog feel with a large “cook wheel” knob. This is paired with a sophisticated user interface that walks the user through the process of programming the oven, and comes with over 400 meal profiles pre-programmed. The user interface appears on a color LCD, a first for an oven because of the technical difficulties to make it work. The payoff is that it allows unprecedented ease of use for this category.
Where Nostalgia and Technology Meet
Turbochef recognized that the product had to make its unfamiliar brand stand out from the crowd. Our research showed that people were tired of stainless steel and wanted the white, rounded ovens of their grandmother's kitchens. So we created an entirely new look that blends comfortable, retro-looking curves with modern materials and technology. We even gave it an analog clock.
The unit has two ovens—a speed cook one on top and a conventional one below. The upper oven’s door is hearth-shaped to continue the retro feel, and is available in seven distinctive colors.
Several rounds of user testing allowed us to hone the feature set, appearance, and the usability of the interface. The resulting product delivers on the promise of making the oven fit into people’s hectic lives while merging the convenience of modern technology with the emotional appeal of the home-cooked meal.