It’s been said (and proven) repeatedly that those with a background in design can offer the most useful feedback in ways outside of a traditional design studio – whether it’s in an executive business meeting setting or even a high school classroom.

For most, this comes down to putting a tried and true user-centered, prototype-driven process into action regardless of the setting or the intended outcome.

For UK-based industrial designer Gareth Ladley, this involved a ‘designer in residence’ scenario in a commercial kitchen where the desired outcome was to rethink how a chef’s approach to food preparation could be made better on a case by case basis using low-cost manufacturing methods such as 3D printing and laser cutting – all of which are all powered by a central open source hand tool.


The result of Ladley’s residence, Auxiliary Tools, is essentially a deeper look at what might happen if a commercial kitchen brought an industrial designer onto the team to develop specific tools on-demand for food preparation that can be both easily produced and discarded using a centralized, open source power system.

For example, if a specific restaurant changes their menu on a weekly basis based on what was in season locally, the industrial designer would be responsible for producing tools specifically for that week’s menu. In one scenario, Ladley explores the concept of creating a crème brûlée using molecular gastronomy methods:

“At the heart of the project there is an argument for more open source tools in order to tackle issues of idling technology and obsolesence,” says Lardley. “Through exploring these issues the project also opens up opportunities in object and service design that exploit the use of modern manufacturing practices that allow designers to design bespoke tools for targeted audiences.”

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Of course, few tools could ever replace a chef’s beloved knife, but this exploration is a fascinating look at an otherwise ingenious concept as we continue to discover new uses for localized manufacturing and ‘design-on-the-go’.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.