[what is it]
FIVE is an interactive exhibit concept that allows museum visitors to mix and match ingredients while learning about popular Vietnamese dishes and the cuisine’s pursuit of balance through the number five.
Professors: Ivan Cruz, Miles Mazzie (Fall 2018)
"i feel like i could do this drunk"
...is what my professor said during my demo. I had worked for weeks to make a simple, accessible experience that could expose anyone to the joys and nuances of Vietnamese cuisine, so I took his remark as the ultimate compliment.
key interactions
The exhibit interface includes physical jars of ingredients and projected video content that gets triggered as users slide balanced ingredients into the slot on the right side.
significance of "five"
Ingredients are color-coded and the goal is to combine five jars (one of each color) in order to “create a dish” and trigger a video about its history and how it’s prepared.

In my early research, I discovered that Vietnamese cuisine has a foundation in the Chinese principle of Wu Xing, or the five elements; it strives to balance color, flavor, nutrients, and sensory appeals in every dish, via representation of the five elements.
inspired by mofad
I chose to model my exhibit as an experience that could live in a darkened corner of Brooklyn's Museum of Food & Drink. I referenced their color palette, heavy use of pallet-esque structures, and simplified graphic style.
aiming for authenticity
For the heading typeface, I went with Cooper. I visited Vietnam prior to attending ArtCenter and was struck by its rampant use everywhere. Of course I didn't know the name of the typeface then, but I hunted it down. Naturally, it was Cooper.

When editing together the videos for the exhibit, I scoured the internet for precisely the right videos. YouTube is filled with travel vlogs where tourists explain the country's culture and cuisine. I knew that this was not what I wanted. I searched endlessly until I had videos where dishes were being explained by locals who knew them intimately.
designing experience
I designed this exhibit for all ages, and to be used solo or in a small group, like close friends or an inter-generational family. The primary focus was how to impart maximum sensory experience and education, while keeping it immediately accessible and yet something people could play with for a duration without having "finished" the experience.
This prototype was smoke and mirrors due to the rapid schedule, however to make it real I would swap the wooden "tabletop" for clear acrylic and a sheet of mylar, then project from underneath. Cameras would also be placed underneath, aimed up at the trigger slot. Symbols on the base of each jar would tell the microcontroller which video to trigger and when.
digital & physical
I loved merging the digital and physical process in this project—using the screen to create content and my hands to build the experiential form.
[for the love of food]
For me, this project really came from the heart. Vietnamese food has been my favorite cuisine for many years now, and a visit to Vietnam only made me love it more (the above image is actually a meal I had outside of Nha Trang).

The balance of bright and savory and spicy, almost always spiked with the umami of fish sauce, hits my palette like no other cuisine. It was exciting to learn the intention behind this balance through my research.

This led me to the insight about the flexibility of the ingredients, typically there is some form of: rice, vegetable, herb, sauce and spice. While user-created outcomes may not always build a precise dish, they can easily be approximated to the closest option, with the differences made clear.
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