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The Garrulous Gastronaut



Copyright Š Pushpi Bagchi 2010 All rights reserved Photographs and other content in this book have been published with necessary permissions, and is for academic purposes only. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the copyright holder. Printed & Bound in Print Express, Bengaluru All editing and design by Pushpi Bagchi




product ideation 40 CORE VALUES 43 START


gastronaut gear 68 GASTRONAUT’s KIT


user tests








“We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavours and furniture polish is made from real lemons.� - Alfred E. Newman




Foreword Why Food? Till a year back I didn’t have much consideration for food. I liked eating, especially things that tasted good, regardless of what they were made of. I didn’t know how to cook and didn’t consider that to be a disadvantage. The first time I cooked something from scratch was in my teacher’s (Geetanjali Sachdev) house. She had come up with a baking kit and wanted to test whether the recipes and instructions were easy enough to follow for people who have never baked. The experience of baking a pumpkin cake with my friends who also didn’t know how to cook was fantastic and it got me hooked on to baking! Then some of my old school mates decided to start a cooking club so we could meet more often. We decided to get together once or twice a month at one of the member’s houses and cook food from a cuisine of our choice. We chose to call our Cooking Club “Gastronauts”. We have a facebook group where we host events and decide who’s going to cook what, etc. I really got into cooking after that and started making informed decisions about what ingredients I bought (fresh or packaged), where I bought them from (chain stores or a farmers market), whether I could substitute ingredients that I knew were


imported with something local, and whether we could cook dishes that took advantage of fruits and vegetables that were in season. Once I started thinking about all this I realised that there are so many facets of food that I never considered before. My newfound food awareness inspired me to centre my graduation project around the theme of food and sustainability.

Preparing for cocktails & canapĂŠ night.

Middle Eastern Lunch.


PROJECT AIM: To design interactive products that engage children, and introduces them to the concept of food sustainability through inclusive methods.


Design Brief WHY SHOULD WE LEARN ABOUT FOOD? Urban India is fast becoming spoilt for choice when it comes to the variety of food available to us in our neighbourhood supermarkets, be it fresh, processed, or packaged. With couples finding themselves short on cooking time, convenience foods are making their way into the homes of middle class Indians. Most working couples have full time cooks to take care of their daily meals and rarely enter their kitchens. Children while accompanying their parents on grocery shopping trips, or at home, begin to assimilate food choices (whether healthy, sustainable or not) from a very young age without appreciating or understanding their implications.* Food consumption trends are moving away from localised systems to global flows, increasing our food miles and in turn the carbon footprint of our food. There is also a steady loss of traditional knowledge (E.g. home remedies, understanding of nutrition), values, and customs (E.g. eating meals in specific courses) that were attached to food and meal times. This maybe because they are no longer passed on from parent to child, or possibly because they are too time consuming and redundant for this day and age. The impact and value of food is being overlooked as we become less involved with the food we eat. How can we encourage ourselves to make small changes in our consumption patterns so that we consume

food to improve our well being and quality of life, while simultaneously reducing our carbon footprint? *This has been proved by a test done in 2008 by a group of nutritionists, doctors and paediatricians in the USA to examine food and beverage choices of preschool aged children. NEED Most of us don’t consider the larger impact of our food choices. But most urban food trends are such that the transport, processing, packaging and distribution of the food we buy consumes enormous amounts of energy and resources. How can we sensitize ourselves to become more aware of everyday decisions and their larger impacts? We need to establish a value system that encourages us to get involved with our food before it reaches our plates, to examine the impact of our food beyond our own bodies, and look at food holistically and not just as a product that satisfies our hunger and taste palate. To really understand something, one needs to be actively involved with it. To truly appreciate food, we need to know where it comes from, how it’s cooked, what it tastes like, and what it does to our bodies when we eat it. If we take ownership of what we eat, we are more likely to become responsible about it, and realize the importance of making healthier and more sustainable food choices.



Children between the ages of 4 to 8 years from upper middle class homes. SECONDARY AUDIENCE • Parents with children of this age group; and possibly educational institutions catering to students of this age and coming from the mentioned social and economic background.


Children of this age are inquisitive, receptive and open to learning about new ideas. Children should be encouraged to explore food, grow it, cook it and experience an array of food flavours and texture to have extensive food knowledge and a wide taste palate. These are the formative years of life and what a child learns and discovers at this age can make a significant impact and stay with him/her for life.

“Even if children have a better understanding at an older age- they also know that they can choose to ignore things that they are being told. They can choose to not care about things.” - Anisha Kashwani Mother of 5 year old Aditya


Attend classes with children of ages 4+ to interact with them to better understand their knowledge of food and its importance, and recognize what helps them learn better. Identify key areas and spaces where children and parents, grandparents, etc. can interact with each other and involve themselves with food. Design products that educate and engage children to learn about the importance and value of food in our everyday lives, and how our food choices and actions can help the planet. To design these products using local, sustainable materials. Conduct user tests and hold interactive sessions with my target audience to check the usability and effectiveness of my final product.


• • •

Existing products, materials and methodologies that introduces children to food and nutrition. Diet, eating habits and food trends in urban upper middle class households. Methods that parents use to teach their children about food. Understanding learning abilities of children between the ages of 4-8 years.


Facilitation & User Participation:

Conduct a series of interviews with Parents with children of ages 4+, and School teachers.

Series of interviews with parents and primary school teachers. Interaction and discussions with children

• •

in their homes and school to explore learning methods. Understanding the needs of the target group (children as well as parents). Interactive sessions to create awareness and spread the word on food sustainability and to introduce the final products. Product user testing with parents, school teachers and children.

Product Conceptualization & Prototyping RESOURCES •

• • •

Spaces: Mallya Aditi International School, Nagarjuna Vidya Niketan School, Mystique Montessori, etc. Books on food, featuring food, and childhood, e.g. Toast by Nigel Slater Toys & other Children’s products People: Children, Parents, School teachers,Illustrators, Designers specialising in children’s products.


Explore the role of design process in creating awareness about sustainability and well being by effecting change in everyday life. Use different materials and mediums to create educational and interactive products for children. Explore my capability as a visual communication designer to facilitate learning.


One potato, two potato three potato, four; Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more; Bad one out! -Traditional Rhyme




RESEARCH AIM: To understand the concept of food sustainability and what it entails.


I had looked up several food movements that are taking place around the world to better understand the concept of food sustainability and what it entailed. Here is a summary of the three main movements that I studied to help me generate values and beliefs that I wanted to include in my final products.

Ecogastronomy The Latin term ‘eco’ refers to how organisms relate to their environment, and, according to food philosopher Jean Anthelme BrillatSavarin, ‘gastronomy’ is the knowledge of whatever concerns man’s nourishment. While gastronomy tends to be associated with of luxury and indulgence and eco with sacrifice, ecogastronomy advocates neither extreme. Instead, ecogastronomy promotes values-based consumerism representing a fusion of pleasure and principles. Ecogastronomy is for busy people who want to make the most of their time with family and friends and learn how to maximize the impact of their consumer money for social, political and environmental change.

Rather than promoting an ideal model that is impossible to achieve, ecogastronomy focuses on the process of positive, thoughtful living, where every little bit counts. Ecogastronomy is a way to guarantee that our future is delicious, diverse, healthy, humane, and sustainable. TAKEAWAY: •

Make people become aware of the larger impacts of their food choices- locally and on a global level. Encourage people to make small changes in their food choices that are doable within their existing schedules.


Slow Food Slow Food is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 by Carlo Pertini to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat; where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. PHILOSOPHY Everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible. Our movement is founded upon this concept of eco-gastronomy – recognition of the strong connections between plate and planet. The organisation believes that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work. We should make ourselves co-producers, not consumers, because by being informed about how our food is produced and actively supporting those who produce it, we become a part of and a partner in the production process. TAKEAWAY: •


Excellent food and drink should be combined with efforts to save traditional and indigenous grains, vegetables, fruits, etc that are disappearing due to the preva-

• •

lence of convenience food and industrial agribusinesses. Encourage people (especially children) to be adventurous tasters. Taste education is imperative to food knowledge. Link producers and co-producers, e.g.: by shopping at Farmers Markets. Moral purchasing of foodstuffs produced by locals, using methods that are morally acceptable to the consumer.

Jamie’s Food Revolution in schools is about getting rid of junk, and replacing processed food in cafeterias with meals cooked from scratch using fresh ingredients.



F is for food quality • Quality fresh food ingredients. • Understanding food, and knowing how it should taste. • Cooking food with love.

Encourage people to eat freshly cooked food made with fresh ingredients instead of processed or reheated meals. Everyone should learn how to cook and get busy in the kitchen and involved in the food they eat.

M is for must haves • Every child must have protein, carbohydrate and vegetables on their plate. • Children must have what they need, not just what they want. • Children must have a try. B is for belief • Belief that you can do it. • Belief that you are making a difference. • Belief that you and your school cooks are some of the most important workers in the country today.


RESEARCH AIM: To study food trends in urban upper middle class homes.


Urban Food Trends SUMMARY AT HOME: • Because of work schedules, most urban families have one family meal a day. Usually breakfast or dinner. • The tendency to eat in front of the T.V. is high, for children as well as parents. • Children in families without cooks are a lot more involved with their food as they help their parents in the kitchen. • There is a rapid decline in practicing traditional food customs, even those during festivals. • Most children enjoy hanging around in the kitchen. FOOD SHOPPING: • Children almost always accompany their parents on grocery shopping trips. • Most working couples buy all their groceries from super market chains. • Conscientious parents buy their fresh produce (fruits, vegetable, poultry, etc.) from local vendors or farmers markets. They don’t trust super markets. • Most parents read the labels of packaged products. • Most parents don’t know about terms like food miles and therefore don’t take them into consideration. • The most important factor for buying food is freshness.


Archi Bagchi & Neelakshi Kotnis Parents of 5 year old Aakruti and 3 year old Aushima Working couple who have a full time cook “ Though I haven’t really heard of food miles, more than being concerned about the carbon footprint of my food, I care about buying food products that are grown or made here to support Indian farmers. But I wouldn’t go to a farmers market to buy them because going to those places you waste time haggling, there’s a lot of crowd; it’s not the best experience.” - Archi “I think children like anything that’s not part of their regular routine. Anything new excites them and they like doing things that adults do. Like helping us shop, trying to choose things for everyone or make decisions on their own; it makes them feel grown up.” - Neelakshi



Anisha Kashwani Mother of 5 year old Aditya Home Maker “I’ve always fed Aditya all types of fruits and vegetables so that his tongue gets used to a variety of tastes. A lot of times parents feed their children bland food or the same type of food when they are young. Such children only like eating familiar tastes which eventually makes them picky eaters.” Aditya plays with me while I’m working in the kitchen. He also loves helping me bake cakes. Helping me cook makes him a lot more excited about eating. When I took Aditya to a farmers market he refused to get out of the car. He thought it was really dirty and smelly. But I had taken him to my father’s orchard in U.P. when he was younger and he loved it there. I think children will like going to such places because there’s a lot to explore and that’s exciting for children. With the way things are going I wonder if Aditya will even be shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables or will he buy pre cut produce, or worse, just be eating pre cooked meals?”


Monica Sharma Mother of 8 year old Mahua School Counsellor Monica buys all her fruits and vegetables from local vendors; she also goes to the Farmers Market on Sundays. Her family owns a small organic farm in Doddaballapur road. They get all their pulses from there. They also grow vegetables like onions, ladies finger, tomatoes, brinjal, etc but not enough for their everyday meals. “I’ve noticed than in family’s where the mother is a home maker they are very concerned about the food they eat at home,so they buy food seasonally, whatever is local, etc. My colleagues who are women go to places like Reliance or More where they can get everything in one place. At home when I cook a meal I try to make sure that the dishes are of one type- whether it’s North Indian or south Indian or Chinese- I cook things of the same kind together. Mahua knows this and keeps track of what I cook. I cook traditional recipes when there is a festival like Janmashtami and there are people coming over. But even then I’ve given up on 60% of the customs that we used to follow when I was a child as they are too tedious; so I really don’t think Mahua will be following them when she grows up.”



Mahua Mukherjee Mother of 4 and a half year old Antariksh Software Engineers, she has a full time cook Since his time with his mother is limited, Antariksh spends time with Mahua in the kitchen on occasions when she cooks. He helps put things into the kadhai, tries stirring and likes playing with chapatti dough. He knows that junk food is bad for you and “good” food makes you healthy and strong. He usually refuses to eat chips as they are ‘junk’. “I think if people were educated about food sustainability it would make it easier for us to make decisions about what to buy. Like if there was a visual indicator in stores showing which product is more sustainable, like you have with energy usage in electronic products now days. I think children are at their best when they are close to nature. We’d gone to a resort where they had a small farm and Antariksh saw the actual source of vegetables for the first time. He saw potatoes are actually roots and he loved it all. I guess before visiting that place he imagined was that all fruits and vegetables come from supermarkets.“


Pooja Appaiah Mother of 5 year old Maanya & 3 year old Harsh Home Maker “Unless children see the sweat and labour that someone puts into preparing food- how will they appreciate it? Yes everything is available easily now days, but the hard work is still there. Sometimes we do role play to make meal times more fun. My kids pretend to be customers of a restaurant where I’m the chef and I tell them what on the menu and serve them what they order. It’s all fun and games with us. More than farmers markets and nurseries kids need to see how food grows. How you plant seeds in the soil, how you make compost, then watch and wait as your plant grows. How flowers dry to bear fruit and plucking them when they become ripe. My kids found this fascinating and in fact they know more about growing food than me. They should be taught all this from a young age because now they are inquisitive about everything and are willing to learn.”


Jyotsna V Mother of 4 year old Bhavya Home Maker “Bhavya used to always accompany us to the farmers market before, but now she sits in the car because she says it’s too sunny and hot.” However her school takes them on field trips to places like rabbit farms, parks and other places close to nature and she really enjoys those trips.”


RESEARCH AIM: To understand the learning abilities of children between the ages of 4–8 years.


School Visits SUMMARY • Exposure makes children accept novel ideas and experiences. • Incorporating physical activities helps children stay engaged and improves their motor skills. • Language barriers don’t always get in the way of communication with children. • Younger children have better ability to pick up words and increase their vocabulary. • Active learning doesn’t give room for boredom or passivity. • Sensorial learning helps children learn by themselves and at their own pace.


Mallya Aditi PREPARATORY | 4–5 YEARS


Aditi is a global school with children from different nationalities and coming from upper middle class backgrounds. The education system focuses a lot on creativity, self discovery, reasoning and active learning beyond the classroom. Having worked with Aditi junior school kids before, I knew that most of them are very friendly and easy to talk to. Though all the kids come from the same economic background they have obvious cultural differences, especially since some of them are from different nationalities. The children are encouraged to embrace these differences and are constantly split into groups to ensure they interact with everyone in class.

LEARNING ABILITIES: Being between the ages of 4-5, they seemed pretty advanced for their age as they already have the ability to reason and think about things logically. • Good counting skills. • Vast vocabulary. • Enjoy getting dirty and working with their hands. INSIGHTS: •

Due to their spoken language skills they have the ability to understand things of greater complexity. The teaching methods actively engage the students by making them use multiple senses (auditory, motor, vision, etc.) compelling them to be lively, and didn’t leave room for boredom or passivity.


Mystic MYSTIC MONTESSORI HOUSE | 2 YEARS 8 MONTHS –5 YEARS Mystic Montessori is a small preparatory school in Yelahanka New Town. The students join from 2 and half years and complete the course by the time they are 6. The students come from a variety of backgrounds. They aren’t forced to speak in English in school and if a child speaks and understands better in his or her mother tongue then the teachers also converse with that child in the language they are comfortable with. The atmosphere is a lot more informal and personal than a regular school. Everyone sits on the floor and each child has their own work space with a mat and small table. Children are allowed to choose what activity they want to do in compliance with the teachers, and take their own time. “Maria Montessori observed that children have more of an appeal for hands on activities and understand better through sensorial learning. Younger children (2–5 years) learn better indoors as they need a secure environment, which is why we have a very intimate indoor setting. Older children (6–9 years) prefer outdoor activities. “ Mrs. Alzira: School Principal INSIGHTS: •


Sensorial learning helps children learn by themselves.

Photography was not permitted by the Principal.




Nagarjuna Vidya Niketan School is a regular CBSE public school where the bulk of the student population comes from urban middle class families. “I feel we are catering to a very difficult class of society. A lot of the parents don’t want to participate in their child’s education and expect the school to teach everything. Since most people in cities live in nuclear families, children don’t even have grandparents at home to interact with them and teach them things outside of school, which is very important at this age. I know these kids have a lot of potential; they just need the right exposure. That’s why I sometimes feel they should stay in school for longer as they learn and experience a lot more here.” -Ghogoush Ghogoush is the Kindergarten coordinator, and class teacher of LKG B. INSIGHTS: •

Though there was a language barrier between me and most of the children they were curious and friendly once they got used to me sitting in class with them. Familiarity helps these children open up and interact. The curriculum incorporates a lot of physical activities and crafts, so students learned by observation if they couldn’t follow spoken instructions. Learning rhymes and songs with actions in groups helped the kids lose their inhibitions of speaking out as their inability to speak English clearly was masked in the group effort.


“Teach kids how to cook! Teach them where food comes from and what it tastes like. Encourage them to explore the food world. And while we are at it, how about doing something  to change the food environment to make it easier for parents to make healthier choices fortheir kids?” - Marion Nestle NYU Professor of Nutrition & author of Food Politics & What to Eat


product ideation CORE VALUES 40 START 43




Core Values

I wanted my final product to encourage my target audience to think about the above facets of food and the different food values that they imbibe.


There were two main directions that I wanted to take with my final product: •

Design a series of interactive sessions through which children learn about food sustainability- and then test what works and what doesn’t. Design a book, and through the means of a strong character (an Eco Gastronaut), narrative and activities introduce the concept of food sustainability and inspire children to become Eco Gastronauts.

I decided to go forward with the idea of a book and possibly create a “kit” that has the book about Eco Gastronauts as the main product, and complementary/ supplementary products- like a Gastronaut shopping bag that reminds you about how you choose to buy your food, and an apron that has food safety instructions printed on it for as reminders for when you cook, and a table mat for when you share a meal with people. Products also work as mediums to promote and spread the message of food sustainability. They also compel you to want to do the activities of an Eco Gastronaut. USEFUL INSIGHT DURING MY 2nd PANEL REVIEW: “While introducing the idea of Food Sustainability, can you figure out an obtuse way of doing it. Don’t just go to the core- sustainability- can you find more subtle methods that bring about the ideas of sustainability. E.g.: to make kids accept Gay people you introduce a Gay friend/ character in a group of friends in sitcoms. Also what is the meta reason for sustainability? Can you try and find out the reasons beyond the apparent; the origin for the desire for sustainability- is it evolutionary? It can help you come up with a different angle to pose your narrative that is beyond the obvious, and make it more interesting/compelling.“ -Geetu


Why Sustainability? To stay useful, sustainability must mean more than merely surviving or trying to keep a degraded world from getting worse. Otherwise, why bother? Invoking nature’s capacity for sustaining life is critical. A sustainable community worth imagining is alive, in the most exuberant sense of that word — fresh, vital, evolving, diverse, and dynamic. It cares about the quality as well as the continuation of life. It is flexible and adaptive. It draws energy from its environment, celebrates organic wholeness, and appreciates that life has more to reveal than human cleverness has yet discovered. It teaches its children to pay attention to the world around them, to respect what they cannot control, and to embrace the creativity with which life sustains itself. - Design Activism Alastair Fuad-Luke


Start I didn’t want my narrative to preach sustainability or as the reader to do extravagant activities to make their food choices sustainable. Instead I wanted it to get the reader to start thinking about their everyday choices (with regards to food in particular), and whether that was having an adverse impact on them or the world around them. I wanted my story to get children and their parents to start thinking about, and re-tracing the story of their food. To make my narrative appeal to a young audience of 3-5 year olds, it would have to have sensorial, physical activities that they could easily follow through the illustrations as the prose might be difficult for them to follow. For the older audience (6+) the main character would have to be inspiring, adventurous and someone they could identify with. The character and narrative should make children feel compelled to imitate his activities, but also understand their value.


“All you do is to look, At a page in this book, Because that’s where we always will be. No book ever ends, When it’s full of your friends, The Giraffe and the Pelly and me.” - Roald Dahl The Giraffe, and the Pelly and Me




Narrative (The script for the book was edited and re-edited over 6 times over the past 2 months. I’ve decided to only put the final version here.) THE GARRULOUS GASTRONAUT_V.3

“Insects, of course! Only I have nerves of steel to deal with squirmy wormy bugs.”

(All text inside brackets comes under flaps) Gastronaut? Gastronaut / gass-tro-not / • noun. ORIGIN Greek gaster ‘stomach’ + nautes ‘sailor. (Not a tummy sailor! A FOOD EXPLORER!!!) Gastronauts are people who explore and enjoy the world of food the way an Astronaut explores outer space.

Pa“Cheeku, Entomologists study insects for a living.” FINE! Then he would become an Astronaut. Zoom through the galaxy in search of eerie aliens. But Ma said they don’t make space suits his size... _Next spread

1.A DECLARATION It was a regular Sunday morning, just as usual. Ma making hot pancakes for everyone, Pa enjoying his breakfast. Dadu pottering about with his watering can. Cheeku got ready to make an announcement... _Next spread Cheeku“I want to be an explorer... The greatest one ever!!!” _Next spread


Cheeku“Arghhh! Blast these dreary dismissals! How do I become an extraordinary explorer?” _Next spread Dadu“Maybe you should explore something simple... something from your everyday?” Cheeku“Dadu, what do you know about being an everyday explorer?”

Dadu“But... what will you explore?”

Dadu loved to study nature and plants, like a Botanist. But instead of going outdoors he would explore possibilities of potted planting out on the balcony. _Next spread


(Plants in pots need special love and care.)

(Outdoor plants can sustain themselves in difficult situations without our help. To sustain means to be able to support yourself without the help of others.) (To be sustainable means to be capable of living and providing for yourself without harming others.) _Next spread Later that morning, Cheeku thought of all the things he loved. Mango chutney and guava jelly Pea soup that warmed his throat and belly Aromas that wafted from fresh-baked cakes The yummy slurps of flavoured shakes Chomp munch gulp- tastes that are radical Essentially all things Gastronomical! (GASTRONOMY is the art of good cooking and eating. So all things GASTRONOMICAL are YUM! True Gastronauts not only explore food, they are fantastic chefs and daring eaters as well.) _Next spread Cheeku“Ma! I’ve got it! I’m going to be a food explorer. THE BEST EVER! Quick, give me some food growing seeds.” Ma“Please?” Cheeku“Please!”


2.SOWING SUCCESS Ma gave Cheeku a bunch of coriander seeds from the kitchen. To sow the seeds he got a rusty old cookie tin. Dadu told Cheeku to plant the seeds about an inch into the soil and water the pot- but not too much! His coriander would be ready to eat in about 3 weeks and until then Cheeku would have to water his plants everyday and make sure they get a lot of sunlight. But Cheeku wanted to do something right that minute. Perhaps he could go food hunting? (Coriander/ ko-ri-an-der /• noun. Herb ORIGIN Latin Coriandrum Sativum) (Other seeds from the kitchen: ground nuts, chilli, mustard) _Next spread Cheeku rushed to Ma. Going to a supermarket would be ideal to study the local hunting and gathering techniques.


Ma“Oh good. You can strap on this shopping bag and help me carry the fruits and vegetables that we’ll buy.” Cheeku“These bags are a lot more stylish, and comfy to carry than shifty plastic!” 3.HUNTING AND GATHERING Most of the food sold in supermarkets travel long distances in trucks, trains, ships and even planes to get there. So, even though the fruits and vegetables look shiny and new - they are not fresh. (Food miles are the distance that food travels to reach your plate. Starting from the farm where it’s grown, all the way to your home.) (Apples from Washington travel thousands of kilometres by planes to reach India. They are then loaded on trucks to reach fruit sellers and super markets before reaching us.)

_Next spread

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Ma“Fresh food is a lot tastier than food that has been in a plane or train for days.”

Ma bought a plump pumpkin from the organic farmer and they set off for home. 4.RECRUITMENT

Cheeku“Is there a place where we can buy food that grows close to us and doesn’t have to travel for long?” _Next spread The farmers market was piled high with mounds of fruits and vegetables fresh from the field. It was loud with the hustle and bustle of buying, selling and bargaining. Cheeku wiggled his way through. (A farmers market is a place where farmers sell their fruits and vegetables fresh from the farm directly to people instead of selling them to a shop first.) _Next spread CheekuHello Mr. Farmer! I’m a Food Explorer; I’ve even grown my own coriander. I’ve come here to inspect the locally grown food. Do you have anything interesting to offer? Farmer“You must sample my organic harvest. It’s fresh as this sunny Sunday morning.” (Organic fruits and vegetables are gown using natural fertilizers, and without pesticides that can harm the soil and water. a variety of plants are grown together in one place. This helps the soil remain nutritious and helps plants grow.)

On reaching home Cheeku sorted their shopping. He felt the smooth oily skin of the brinjal, separated the beets from the pomegranates, the tomatoes from the lime, and gathered together the slim, long lady fingers. Cheeku“Ma, I’m ready to tell everyone about my unparalleled knowledge of food.” Ma“Why don’t you call your friends over and fill their tummies instead?” Cheeku“Great idea Ma! Let’s bake some cake to go with my recruiting mission.” _Next spread How to make pumpkin cupcakes: Ingredients- mix it all in a big bowl with a beater till it’s a thick batter. Pre heat the oven at 200 degrees centigrade. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes approximately. To see if the cupcakes are done insert a long needle (knitting needle-draw) into the centre of the cupcakes. It should come out with a few moist crumbs on it.


_Next spread Cheeku called his friends over for a cupcake tasting before helping Ma clean up. Dadu and Pa also hung around.

_Next spread

*Illustration only*

After a lot of bickering and chattering, accompanied by bites, slurps, scuffles and sniffles, the eager explorers jotted down notes on how to become a great Gastronaut.

5.COOKING CLUBS (or Secret Societies?)

_Next spread

Cheeku stood up to call for attention...

A Gastronaut -

Cheeku“I have called all you excitement seekers to share the food knowledge that I’ve gathered. But there is a more that we can do. Together we can be the GREATEST GASTRONAUTS EVER!”

1. Buys food that grows locally. • To make farmers our friends. • Ensure your food is fresh and yummy. • Reduce food miles.

_Next spread

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2. Tries to grow food. • Its fun and it’ll test your abilities. • You’re allowed to eat what you grow.

Toto“We’ll be a Secret Society- or a Club... Let’s make a rule book.”

3. Learns to recognise food. • To be a true food expert, you have to know what you’re eating!

Cheeku“No we can’t be a Secret Club. It was my secret to tell and I told you all!!!”

4. Gets busy in the kitchen. • To be food safe • Cooking is cool! • Sharing food brings people together.

Pingu“we should sign a treaty!”


Chimpu“Have you been slurping my smoothie?”

Minty“Eww... I hate rules! Let’s do TASTING TUESDAYS.”

5. Learns to recognise tastes. • A trained tongue can distinguish flavours and will make you a taste expert. • It will help you come up with your own fantastic recipes.

Bobo“I want to have a planting party!”

6. Spreads the word and gets more people to join the club!

Cheeku, Chimpu, Chintoo, Bobo, Toto, Minty, Pingu, Maya, Joy, Shubho. Put your signature here...............................


Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers is an artist, illustrator & writer from Belfast Northern Ireland. He is currently based in Brooklyn.


Emily Gravett

Emily Gravett is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator who currently lives in Brighton, England with her family.

I find Oliver Jeffers’s illustrations and hand lettering very inspiring. His images have fantastic use of colour and texture. I came across Emily Gravett’s work in a children’s library and fell in love with the thick, yet soft line quality of her illustrations. I had initially considered inking my illustrations with a quill pen but the characters started looking a bit evil in a few spreads! After coming across Emily Gravett’s work I decided to work with thick graphite pencils instead.



I based my characters on people I know. Cheeku was inspired by my brother Guddu, my cousin Googli, and a kid in a toothpaste advertisement called Teeku!


After Cheeku, Dadu & Ma are the most important characters.


I decided to use nick names instead of regular names as a characteristic by itself. Cheeku and his gang after all, were a group of offbeat kids who decide to form a Gastronauts club instead of play with a play station!


Illustration Style For the final illustrations the materials used were graphite pencils (6B & 8B), and water colours. The background textures were partly made by hand using poster paints, acrylic colours, graphite pencils, as well as Photoshop. For most spreads, I drew the individual characters and objects separately, Photoshopped them and then laid them out on InDesign. My biggest challenge was maintaining consistency in the character illustrations as well as the overall style. I wanted the illustrations to look spontaneous as my main character is very active. The overall look had a “rough� finish as in the story Cheeku is constantly doing activities that involve your hands getting dirty; gardening, sorting vegetables, cooking, etc. I wanted the illustration style to complement the story and setting. This is mainly why I’ve used warm, bright colours to match the Indian colour palette and made sure that my characters look Indian, yet are appealing to urban Indian children who are used to watching Western characters & illustration on the Disney Channel or Animax.

Initial sketch with colours, to the final hand drawn + Photoshopped illustration.


Drawing with HB pencils and graphite pencils 6B & 8B.

Colouring in with water colours & indian ink.


Typography Style All the hand drawn or illustrated typography in the book has been done using a variety of calligraphy and regular writing pens such as a 0.5 pt. brush tip pen, a quill pen, gel pens, etc. I wanted to incorporate hand drawn type for many reasons, the most important being to give a visual cue to differentiate between the “narration� and the dialogue. I also feel hand drawn type adds a lot of personality to any illustration which is why I specifically used it for the dialogues and the chapter heads. In the first draft of the book there were too many variations in type, hand drawn and digital; I simplified it a lot in the final draft.


Format The book had to have 2 layers of information. The first layer was the illustrated narrative that gave the platform for introducing the bigger picture of the story of our food and sustainability. The second layer was factual information about sustainability and food. The use of flaps seemed ideal for introducing this second layer of information as it made the book interactive, and gave an interesting format to introduce facts. Like secrets hidden in the narrative. The only disadvantage I could think of was that flaps makes the book less durable. But sometimes when a product is less durable the user might be more careful while handling it to make sure it didn’t break or in this case, tear apart.

Quick prototype, perfect bound spine with pasted on flaps.


Quick prototype,accordion fold spine with cut out flaps.


Page Size

The standard print page size is 320 / 470 mm. The print area is 305 / 450 mm. Since I wanted to do a square hand book, I kept my page dimensions as 147 / 147 mm (5.8 inches). This was the optimum size that didn’t allow for any paper wastage, and the proportion is such that the size of the book can be scaled up or down to minimise wastage while offset printing.


Grids & Margins

The page ratio is 1:1 and the spread ratio is 2:1. This makes the book easily scalable. Initially I kept the margins as 0.5” on all sides. While making the final version of the book the inside margin was kept at 0.75” and the outside margin as 0.25”to make space for the perfect bound spine.


Version 1

Chapter 2. Sowing Success

Chapter 4. Recruitment





• •

• •


Re think the cover type- Garrulous Gastronaut should be the highlight. As you are mentioning one Gastronaut “The...” It would make more semantic sense to have just one illustration of the main character on the cover. Keep the typography in the inside pages simple and make it bigger in size. Overall the layouts don’t have a relief of contrast, there is too much happening and the flow is a little monotonous. Perhaps you can create a pattern of contrasting pages using illustration, colour, type, etc. Rethink the shapes of a few of the flaps as at the moment most are simple shapes- squares, rectangles, etc. Perhaps they can be in the shape of food? Also the type size under the flaps can be smaller as it is like revealing a secret underneath. Edit the copy. It’s too lengthy. The inside margin needs to increase as some of the illustrations are going into the spine.

Version 2

Outside+ Top+ Bottom margin 0.5’’, Inside margin 0.75’’

Simple hand drawn type using a quill pen.




CHANGES MADE IN V.2: • • • • •

Typography; Simpler hand lettering & body copy font used is Bembo 13.5pt / 16pt leading. Shapes & quantity of flaps. I attempted to make all the flaps merge in with the background illustrations. Use of colour blocking for the different chapters, blue, green, yellow, brown & pink. Rounded page corners. Change in title “The Garrulous Gastronaut” to “A Garrulous Gastronaut’s Guide”.


GASTRONAUT / gass-tro-not / •noun. food explorer ORIGIN Greek gaster ‘stomach’ + nautes ‘sailor’.


gastronaut gear GASTRONAUT’s KIT 68 PROCESS 70 PRODUCTS 72


Gastronaut’s Kit The main aim of my project was always to get children involved with their food. Each chapter in the book after the first focuses on a particular activity related to food; growing food, buying food, cooking and sharing a meal. Other than the illustrations in the book, I wanted to give the readers an added incentive to want to get involved with their food. Thus the book was to be part of a Gastronaut’s Kit. The products in the kit would persuade the child and their parent to do all the activities related to food that Cheeku does in the book. GASTRONAUT GEAR CONSISTS OF: •

A Gastronaut guide book about Cheeku’s journey and exploits to becoming a Gastronaut. A twin set of reusable shopping bags with handy tips from Cheeku on “buying FRESH”. A twin set of aprons to get bustling in the kitchen and cook up gastronomical delights! And a set of 6 table mats to sit down at the table, and share a meal with near and dear ones.

Both the bags and aprons are in twin sets so the child can look at the adults bag or apron and the adult could look at the child’s since it might be hard to read what’s on their own bag or apron. I also liked the idea of the adult and child having the exact same product, only in different sizes. I wanted the child to feel that their contribu-


tion and responsibility in the activity is as important as the adults. To be an equal, only of a smaller size. All the main characters from the book appear on the mats and they speak to each other across mats. The person setting the table has to figure out the order in which to place the mats. There is a story taking place through the snippets of the conversation about a planting party. I wanted the story of food to come full circle as the mats are used while eating food, but the conversation talks of growing food which is the first stage in the ‘story of food’. All cloth products are made of untreated (Kora) canvas and cotton bought from Komala Enterprises on Oakalipuram Main Road, R.C. Puram, and Khadi Bhandar on Dispensary Road respectively. The tailoring was done at Rupa Collections on Dispensary Road. I made sure that all the cloth used for the products is manufactured in India to reduce their carbon footprint. BENEFITS OF UNTREATED CANVAS & HANDLOOM COTTON: • • •

Durable & Non flammable Machine-washable 100% untreated canvas has a pleasant matte finish

The colour of the straps or lining in the products work as a colour coding system as they match their respective chapter heads in the book.



Getting from Oakalipuram Main Road to Dispensary Road.

Initial sketches that I gave to the tailor.


Rough sketches for the screen print designs.


Round 1 of printing, I exposed the screens & printed myself.

Round 2, I got the screens exposed in Ebrahim Saheb St., but printed by myself.


Tailored bag, initial 2 colour print, final print in single colour.

Experimenting with embroidery to add texture and a second colour.



Twin tote bags.

Twin set of aprons.


Set of 6 table mats.


Costing GASTRONAUT GUIDE: Material Cost (textured paper) = Rs.40 Printing (inside pages+ cover+ flaps) = Rs.300 Die Cutting = Rs.30 Binding = Rs.200 Pasting = none TOTAL = Rs.570 GASTRONAUT GEAR: Material Cost (per kit)= Rs.220 (2 meters canvas @ Rs.60 per meter + 1.25 meters hand loom cotton @ Rs.80 per meter) Stitching = Rs.550 (2 bags @ Rs.75 + 2 aprons @ Rs.50 + 6 mats @ Rs.50) Screen Printing (exposing designs) = Rs. 2,500 TOTAL = Rs.770 + screen printing cost (All materials have been bought at retail prices and the book has been printed digitally.)


user tests 74 bibliography 79 acknowledgements 79


user tests I really wanted to see how my primary target audience (urban middle class children between ages of 4-8) reacted to my book as that is the heart of the entire Gastronaut kit. I also wanted to show it to them in a large group so that an adult, such as a parent or teacher couldn’t stifle or monitor their reaction. I took two classes in Mallya Aditi, a reading period with Standard 2 and library period with Standard 3. I did a projected book reading by myself with both groups without much involvement of the teachers who were present. Only an initial introduction and call to order. I was thrilled with their reactions and opinions in both classes, especially because the children were really open, interested, observant and friendly. I’ve written down some of the comments, opinions and questions that were asked at the end of the reading. STANDARD 2 (7-8 Years) | Reading Period | Miss Devika 28.10.10 WHAT I ASKED: Did you like the book? Collective “YES!” What did you like about the book? “The illustrations.” “The part where they formed a club and put their signatures on the paper.” “The colours.” WHAT THEY ASKED: “How did you get the idea for the book?” My friends and I started a cooking club. We


get together on weekends when we are all free and choose a type of cuisine and cook together- like Italian, Malaysian, etc. When I had to go out and buy ingredients for what I was going to cook I had to make a lot of decisions like buying fresh tomatoes for making a pasta sauce or buying a packet of tomato puree. I started thinking about what each ingredient would do to my body, where the food came from, how it affected things outside my body... And I thought more people should think about these things, so I chose to write a book about it for my project! “How did you learn to cook?” I didn’t know how to cook at all, and no one really taught me. I just went online and got recipes for the dishes I wanted to make and followed instructions. It’s a lot of fun! “Are you selling the book in stores?” Not yet, but I will if I get a publisher!



STANDARD 3 (8-9 Years) | Library Period | Miss Jaishree 29.10.10 WHAT I ASKED: Did you like the book? “It was AWESOME!” Did you like anything in particular? “The illustrations.” “The flaps are really cool!” “The characters. You should write a series about Cheeku and his friends.”

“How did you make the flaps?” I drew them out and worked on them some more on the computer and printed them out on a sheet. I then cut them out and stuck them on the page. “Is this book published?” No its not. This is just the first copy that I got printed and bound to be submitted to my teachers so they can grade me on it.

WHAT THEY ASKED: “Why does it say 90% off on that shelf of apples?” (In Chapter 3 when Ma and Cheeku go to a supermarket.) Have you noticed crates in super markets where they advertise discounts on fruits and vegetables and “special offers”? Well its mainly because that particular stock of fruit or vegetable is getting old and rotting and they want to try and clear their stock, so I decided to put a sign like that in the supermarket Cheeku visits. “Why did you choose to write a book?” Because I felt it would help me communicate my ideas and thoughts better than anything else. “Are the characters real?” No they aren’t really but they are based on people I know, like my close friends and family members. In fact one of them is like me when I was a kid! “Are you going to write more books?” If I have something to write about- definitely!


INSIGHTS: Even though I showed my book to the upper limit of my target age group, it was really useful as now I know that the colours, illustrations and especially the flaps are engaging for the older audience and are likely to engage a younger audience of 4-5 year olds as well. The book is meant to be read out loud to a younger audience and through my reading sessions I know that the language in the overall narrative is simple enough for a 7 or 8 year old to read by themselves as most of the kids were reading along with me. I was a little nervous about the fact that I’d used pet names and not real names for all my characters. Even though I did this to make the characters more personal, fun and endearing, I had a feeling that kids might find it strange. However, the children I read to just found it funny which was great! I was also really pleased when a third grader asked me to turn the book into a series about Cheeku and his friends. It felt great to have such a good response to the book from these two groups of students and their teachers. I guess I didn’t get lost in my tiny bubble of an idea, and managed to create something that at least some people can relate to and enjoy! FUTURE PROSPECTS: •


Have an online community of Gastronauts where you can share your food explorations. Recipes, planting tips, locate farmers markets nearest to your home, etc.

As one the Aditi 3rd graders suggested, make the guide book into a series where Cheeku and his friends explore more facets of food; perhaps growing kitchen or community gardens or about different tastes and textures of food? Design a series of workshops where children can get together and do the different kinds of food activities and explorations that Cheeku does and discuss the “food knowledge” they gain from them.

bibliography WEBSITES: • • • • • • • BOOKS: • DESIGN ACTIVISM, Alastair Fuad-Luke • TOAST, Nigel Slater

acknowledgements Mummy, Baba, Guddu, Nikki, Reva, Veda; for being the backbone of this project. Pipi; for making time. Meera; without you, I wouldn’t have finished. Nikita; you’re a champ!!! All the parents & their children who persisted with my question. The teachers at Mallya Aditi, Nagarjuna Vidya Niketan, & Mystic Montessori for letting me in. My Panel members, Arathi, Geetu, Nupur; for all the feedback. and Cheeku; for letting my imagination flow.


“I love bread-and-butter pudding. I love its layers of sweet, quivering custard, juicy raisins, golden crust. I love the way it sings quietly in the oven; the way it wobbles on the spoon. You can’t smell a hug. You can’t hear a cuddle. But if you could, I reckon it would smell and sound of warm bread-and-butter pudding.” -Nigel Slater

The Garrulous Gastronaut_Project Documentation  

A book documenting the process of my Graduation project at Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology

The Garrulous Gastronaut_Project Documentation  

A book documenting the process of my Graduation project at Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology