Food for Thought: Empathy Tableware Design for Diabetes Family

︎UX Design, Product Design
︎Final Major Project, MAUX, UAL
︎Jul, 2019-Dec, 2019, London


Change in diet can make diabetes patients feel marginalised when the family does not adapt its eating habits to the patient’s dietary needs and restrictions. Patients sometimes need to control food intake to maintain disease management, but they don't want to affect the dining atmosphere in their family. Therefore, this project is exploring how to reduce the inequality and emotional stress that people with diabetes can feel in the family dining environment, creating an empathetic family dining atmosphere.

By designing the appearance of the plate very similar, including the height and size, while the depth of the plate is changed, thereby concealing the food intake consumed for diabetes patients. Through such an empathetic design, patients would feel that there was no difference between themselves and their families when eating while still choosing to control their food portions, and their families would not need to adjust themselves too much in terms of changing their diet.


With the help of the internet and the Lambeth & Southwark Diabetes UK Group, I finally got patients who would like to participate in my project from USA/Russia/Arabia/Chinese family. My sample includes 3 Type one diabetes patients, 11 Type two diabetes patients and  4 people who are in diabetes family.

“I need to understand what I need to do, how many insulin, unit, cals. Just count. My life is like a calculator.” (Lucy, Type 1 diabetes patient)

"The food control would cause everyone's unhappiness when you eating out with others, so it is meaningless. No matter what happens, to maintain a happy life, and social social interaction can be carried out normally will be more necessary than to cause other people's unhappiness.” (
Dan, Type 2 diabetes patient)

“Patient are all human being, even they know they can’t do
something, people will still cheating sometimes. ” (June, Type 2 diabetes patient)


I transcribed the interviews conducted with my samples and I used coding analysis to assist me in classifying the problems and opportunities.
These interviews showed an unequal dinning atmosphere in diabetes family also exist because of this disease.

Here are some key findings:
︎Food can be a significant source of stress for diabetes patients in their everyday lives.

︎Diabetes can destroy the harmony of the patient's body and interfere with the patient's family and social life.

︎Patients tend to put the most pressure on themselves most of the time, rather than sharing the burden. When they are using diet to control their situation, they usually do not want to disturb others’ eating habits.

︎Family members do not always know the best way to support the patient. Some verbal communication and inappropriate behaviour can hurt patients’ feelings, such as ‘Don’t eat this’, ‘This is not for you’, ‘Are you sure you should be eating this?