You can get it in any flavor you want, as long as the flavor is black.

There’s still a lot of late-night infomercials with ice-crushers, mixers, tools and knives that promise to elevate the common man to the status of “chef”. And while many of those fine pieces of kitchen cutlery will languish in the buyer’s home, some individuals WILL rise that coveted status among their circle of friends as a bloody good cook; but it’ll be through trial-and-error, patience and practice; the tools themselves are hardly relevant in that quest. Unless of course that person is the lucky owner of MiX by Lishuai Dong, in which case they would immediately be elevated to the status of Master Chef, because it’s all in the sauce. That’s what MiX does by the way, it makes sauces for you (it does a bunch of other things too. More on that later.) How does it work? As usual with flawesome product ideas, it probably wouldn’t, couldn’t, or doesn’t.

Ever seen a Coke Freestyle? It’s a new soda dispensing machine you’ll find at Wendys, Burger King, and some other restaurants that can create over 400 combinations of drinks (most a variation on a core drink. Orange coke for example, or Cherry Coke, or Diet Cherry Fanta.) The MiX is like that, but more complicated, for sauces, and 1/100th the size of the coke machine. But making soda is quite fundamentally different than making sauces. It’s unlikely you’d see a Liquor Freestyle anytime soon if ever, because unlike coke freestyle which basically just mixes various syrups with carbonated water, alcohols aren’t created that way. Incidentally, neither are sauces.

Making the perfect sauce
Sauces can have strong leanings towards some of the ‘Major’ tastes (salty, sweet, sour, bitter) but that’s not all there is to sauce. Sauces, and flavoring in general, are born out of hundreds of thousands of various ingredients and preparation techniques. There’s mixing involved sure, but also simmering, reduction, roasting, cooking, and waiting to name a few. Some sauces are thin and light, others are heavy and well… gloopy. How they’re created and when they need to be used (and how much) is … well that’s what people call cooking. If you don’t want to bother figuring the amount of minced garlic you need for Bulgogi Sauce, you can buy it from the store. But it seems very unlikely that MiX would have some hidden cache of Garlic (and crushed peppers and ginger and sauteed yellow onion and so on) to make the thing for you on a made-to-order basis.

Universal Constructor
There’s really only two ways that this product could function the way it proposes to work (besides the obvious way it would work: badly). One: scientists develop a way that creates all possible flavors and textures using advanced forms of organic bio-printing combined with a select few food extracts that when combined is capable of simulating nearly all of the possible sauces in the world. Or… Two: MiX uses nano to atomic scale universal constructors capable of assembling molecules into the appropriate flavor particle(s). We’re talking Star Trek replicator technology in something the size of a coffee maker. It simply isn’t going to work. Sauces are NOT just trying to carefully balance the amount of salt, vinegar, and sugar in dumpling dip. This illustrates a gross lack of knowledge or disregard from the designer of the problem MiX is trying to solve and the product which MiX must produce.

Time To Use Magnets
The MiX also inexplicably comes with something that resembles a flat stone with a touch screen display. It’s ironic that this little attachment is probably the most sound piece of hardware on the whole device. It’s a recipe database, a timer, and a cooking instructor all in one; it even has magnets so you can stick it on your cooking range or fridge. That in and of itself is already a worthwhile product (though arguably modern smart phones and tablets can perform the same task from a hardware standpoint). Instead, the attachment is a smart idea married to a dumb one.

Applying Flavoring in “Novel” Ways
If you’ve cooked before, you’ll probably understand that how you apply a flavoring is often inconsequential except towards the very end. Timing is more important (and so obviously, is quantity). What you’ve probably never done however is apply sauce like a perfume or cracked a powdered egg ball over your cooking, probably because there’s not much point to either. You’d have to be using some serious spices before misting a sauce is preferable to tablespoons and teaspoons, except in the case you’re talking about adding extracts or something highly concentrated (like food coloring). There doesn’t seem a particularly good reason to crack an egg of powder over your cooking either, except it probably increases the potential for that powder to go everywhere.

Both these ‘features’ are classic examples of designers designing just to be different. It’s a trap that students and bad designers fall into when they forget that design is about solving problems and communication. Novelty without purpose is amateur at best, garbage at worst.

Chefs are Human Too
Like some of the other cooking devices we’ve covered, the designer assumes chefs are mythical beings of legend without better taste buds and the ability to summon flavors like a witch with her brew; but cooking isn’t magic. It’s a mixture of tradition, science, instruction, and practice. MiX can’t replace anything that a good chef does well, and anything coming remotely close can be attained by simply following instructions and having the right ingredients. There are plenty of ways that technology can and does change how we’re perceiving and consuming food (just check out what these guys at Moto are up to.) But any regular cook would likely get more utility out of a slap-chop, and those things don’t require any magical technology (or even electricity) to use.

Left Feeling Bland
The MiX very much follows the template of bad future design that we’ve seen all-too-often lately (and probably historically as well). It takes a marginal or non existent problem, solves it with non existent future technology, assumes behaviors that people are unlikely to adopt, and finally adds novelty for novelty’s sake. Cooking can be difficult, but it’s not so difficult that this device would make the chef’s life any easier or harder. Until something actually revolutionary comes around (maybe a machine that can print a perfect ribeye), save your day dreams for something with a little more flavor … and a little less flawesome.

Via Yanko Design