Designing to help us remember the leftovers

We asked Thibault Poyet, who works as a product design developer at IKEA, about developing the 365+ series and if he can relate to a kitchen drawer full of mismatched lids and containers. Now we also know that baking enthusiasts have something to look forward to.

With summertime comes both long evening barbecues and the need for quick lunches to feed your hungry crew at home. To help you store everything from ingredients to leftovers, we keep on developing the 365+ series, a wide range of airtight food containers. Many are transparent so you can see what’s inside because leftover food hidden in the fridge can easily be forgotten.

Thibault Poyet works as a product design developer at IKEA, and we asked him about developing the 365+ series.

Who is Thibault?

“I am French, but I would also like to add Chinese and Scandinavian because living and working in China and Sweden has made me who I am today. Soon I will have lived as much time abroad as in France.”

“I am a designer, a product developer, a photographer and also a design teacher. I am passionate about the user experiences, and how the users interact with the products we design.”

You work as a product design developer. What does that mean?

“Working as a product design developer means translating life at home knowledges into solutions for the many people. It includes empathy and the importance of understanding peoples’ needs and frustrations, but also their wishes.”

“In my role I have to investigate to identify problems, being creative to envision solutions, being agile to engage and collaborate with a team of designers, engineers and sourcing to make the products.”

What IKEA product design have you been involved in?

“I have a long experience in designing and developing products for the heart of the home, the kitchen! My work has included appliances, cabinetry and storage systems. At IKEA, I develop products to help our customers with everything from preparing food, cleaning up, storing and preserving food.”

“One example is the 365+ food storage platform. The airtight food containers initially started as a storage unit. But, obviously, there is more to food than just storing it. So, we decided to expand the platform toward food preparation as well. The 365+ grater and mandolin are good examples of products that work great as stand-alone, and even better when fit together with the containers.”

“Another favourite of mine is the silicon lid. This perfect companion can go from the fridge to microwave, even the oven. We also introduced 365+ water bottle, with the nice lid with a loop: a children’s favourite from what I can observe at school! It does not end there. I also developed RINNIG, great low-price modular offer for dishwashing.”

Where do you start when designing food containers?

“Reaching out to the end-users to understand their habits and behaviours is always the starting point. One third of all global food is thrown away, so I always ask myself how we can help our customers prevent food waste.”

“We eat what we see. If it is hidden in the fridge leftover food can easily be forgotten. That is why it was so important for us to make the 365+ containers out of transparent materials, to help people actually see what they have and take care of the leftovers in time to reducing unnecessary food waste. But the benefit of transparency also stimulates healthy habits, inviting people to prepare more diverse meals.

“Flexible lids and containers help our customers reducing clean-up, bringing convenience from fridge to oven, to table, … and also decluttering the storage!”

What are you working on right now?

“I am more curious about how people cook, rather than if they are professionals or beginners. With the pandemic going on, we have all witnessed a dramatic change in our lives and in our homes. And we all became a bit more confident in cooking, and maybe baking as well! Right now, we are preparing for a great offer to our baking enthusiasts.”

Many of us can relate to a kitchen drawer full of mismatched containers and lids. Can you?

“Me too! This has been a struggle for me, always wondering where this lid or that container went… This frustration has moved into resignation, and that drawer is less of an issue nowadays thanks to 365+.”

How do you store food in your own kitchen?

“When I lived in China, I would go out every morning to buy fresh food from local markets before heading to work. Now living in Sweden, we buy larger quantities less frequently. This has changed how we organize our food, and also what we eat at home. Quite often we have leftovers for lunch the next day, especially during these times when we are at home much more, and then we use the glass containers combined with silicon lids.“

“My other go-to tool is the mandolin, which is excellent for salads or pies. It only takes a few seconds to slice carrots or cucumber. The best part is that we have developed a safety feature that protects the blades when not in use. With three kids around the house, this is important to me!

What will you cook this summer?

 “We will enjoy the Swedish summer, which will be an opportunity for me to improve in one of the national sports here: BBQ! I also enjoy baking pies for my family, and we will be heading to the woods for berry picking.”