Back to Basics Synergy 

OCADU Series: Eat+Learn

Dear Readers, Vidafine had a chance to visit the OCAD University Industrial Design Thesis show in May and is excited to share with you some cool finds! The scope of their thesis topics were broad, ranging from innovative products to holistic systems and services “that would change the way we live, think, work and play”. The overall success of the show demonstrated the amount of hard work the students have put in the last 9 months. It was a difficult choice, but we have selected two projects to showcase. We hope that these posts inspire you to think creatively and also to gain a new perspective in the role design plays in your everyday life.

Eat+Learn – Ansis Kalnins


As a student working around tight timelines and schedules, it is difficult to maintain a balanced diet and nearly impossible to find the time to go grocery shopping. That is why I was drawn to this particular project by Ansis Kalnins that aims to help many young students to learn how to eat properly. One of the main challenges is the multitude of food planning decisions that happen when they go grocery shopping. Eat+Learn is a food suggestion platform tailored specifically for these students. It clearly and simply shows them how to assemble complete meals right there in the grocery store.


Food Package Icons denote what role a product has in a meal, including a main dish, a vegetable portion and a side dish. Collect enough icons from each of the three simple categories and you’ve got yourself a complete meal. The student simply selects the right combination of food items from their refrigerator and pantry to start cooking a balanced meal, every time. The goal is for them to start developing a habit in their purchasing routines so that decisions at the grocery store almost become effortless.


The service’s website will help them generate a shopping list using these Food Package Icons to help make some of these decisions before going to the grocery store. Vidafine had a chance to speak with Ansis to better understand his thesis project and what being a designer means to him.

Can you share with us your experience in becoming an Industrial Designer, was it something you always wanted to do?

I have always had an interest in design and the technology around it, even as a child. I remember schooling my high school guidance counsellor on what Industrial Design is and exactly how I would become one. As soon as I could, I uprooted and moved to Toronto to study at OCADU.

How did you decide on the topic you would pursue for your thesis project?

I began by looking at the enjoyment of food and drink. A lot of emphasis was placed on enjoying our family’s food when I was growing up, so I wanted to use this thesis project to look at why some people are so indifferent to eating and drinking.

What obstacles, if any, did you encounter during your design process and how did you go about resolving it?

The main lesson I learned from taking such a thorough look at a specific problem was the importance of truly seeing the complete spectrum of a particular topic. To truly be able to see the full scope of a problem, you need to completely take off your blinders and push the boundaries of what you might think the ecology of use is. Only when you see that full spectrum, can you begin getting to the core of a behaviour, problem and then solution.


What do you believe ‘good’ design is?

Design that I truly am inspired by doesn’t take itself too seriously. High design tends to be just too sober and sterile, which I don’t feel reflects the nature of the design process, nor the human interactions of its use. The artefact shouldn’t come off as cheap novelty, but I want to be able to tell that there was a smile on the face of its designer when it was conceived.

Any tips for aspiring designers and individuals who plan to pursue Industrial Design?

One piece of advice I could give to an aspiring designer is to truly know your game. Follow the design world, not just Industrial Design or your particular field of work. On top of that, also be actively engaged in visual culture in general; glossy design magazines will only teach you so much. For every 10 design blogs, pick 10 blogs to follow from other fields. I follow everything from mixology blogs, colour theory, cycling and astrophysics. These inform my work just as much as any of the 12 or 15 typical design blogs.

Thanks Ansis for taking the time to share your thesis with us! For those of you interested in this project, view some of other Ansis’ work here.

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