ArticlePDF Available

StreetSauce: nurturing speculation in service design

Authors:
INTERACTIONS.ACM.ORG34 INTERACTIONS SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER 2017
Markéta Dolejšová, National University of Singapore
Ter eza Lišková, Material Times
Insights
Experiential speculative
design could offer a
useful instrument for
service designers to
explore new types of
socially aware services.
The impromptu
speculation performed
in the everyday context
helps advance the
StreetSauce ser vice but
creates ethical issues.
StreetSauce (www.streetsauce.cz)
is a street-food bistro run by homeless
women who serve carrot “hot dogs”
with specially designed narrative
sauces made of their own life stories.
The sauces are created in an online
cookbook (www.opensauce.cz) that
enables users to input various texts
and convert them into personalized
sauce recipes by means of network text
analysis (Figure 1). The actual edible
sauces function as speculative design
artifacts, metaphorically embodying
the possible avors of homeless life
that can be tasted by bistro visitors
(Figure 2). Through running the bistro,
the homeless women have a chance
Over the past few years, critical
speculative design has transformed
from an underground to a more
mainstream design research domain.
Besides speculating about the possible
futures of existing sociotechnical
systems through design ction
imaginaries, critical speculative
designers began to generate pragmatic
design solutions applied in a real-
life context [1,2,3]. This shift has
prompted us to probe the possible
uses of speculation in socially aware
service design and to respond to the
recent call for more holistic, situated,
and experiential service-design
approaches [4].
O
StreetSauce:
Nurturing
Speculation
in Service
Design
INTERACTIONS.ACM.ORG SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER 2017 INTERACTIONS 35
questions: What are the challenges
and opportunities of speculative design
methods in the advancement of socially
aware ser vice design? What kind of
knowledge can speculative design research
inquiry reveal that cannot be re vealed
through other forms of inquiry?
EVERYDAY SPECULATION
FOR SOCIAL GOOD
So far, service designers have employed
speculation mostly to envision possible
future services through prototyping,
scenarios, or future forecasting [4].
StreetSauce takes a dierent approach:
Instead of navigating to a future
imaginary, it puts speculation to work
in the everyday world, aiming to create
a space for real-life interaction and
engagement. The StreetSauce bistro
is not a speculative service in itself;
rather, it is an actual service built
around specially designed artifacts
embedded with speculative meanings
that can be consumed—both literally
and guratively—by the participants
(Figure 3). The latter requires a
deliberate suspension of disbelief and
the conscious creative engagement
of both chefs and bistro visitors, who
are encouraged to interact over the
narrative sauces.
The speculative element is an
essential part of the project, which aims
to go beyond the usual scope of social
services supporting homeless people
(e.g., soup kitchens, Food Not Bombs,
S
gures such as politicians or celebrities.
Female homelessness is a particularly
sensitive form of this social exclusion:
While homeless men are sometimes
seen as adventurous and driven
by a deliberate frugality, homeless
women are often condemned as failed
individuals incapable of fullling their
social roles as mothers and caregivers
[5]. This has been the experience of
the nine StreetSauce chefs whose life
stories we aim to highlight and make
more “digestible” through the colorful
sauce design.
Over the rst three years of its
existence, StreetSauce has become an
established service and a well-known
curiosity on the Czech food scene
[6]. Here we will share some ndings
from an ongoing design research study
conducted at the bistro to oer critical
reections on how speculative methods
are put to work in the project. While
focusing on the forms of knowledge
and experiences that speculation helps
to generate, we address the following
Instead of emphasizing that the chefs
are in need of help, the bistro portrays
them as active individuals capable
of performing physical and intellectual
labor in a responsible manner.
to engage in a meaningful day-to-
day social activity and perform their
creativity as chefs, which can result
in their emotional as well as material
support.
The StreetSauce project started as
a collaboration between Cancel356
(www.cancel356.cz), a Prague-based
hacklab co-founded by the authors of
this text, and Homelike, an NGO that
provides social support to homeless
women (http://jakodoma.org). The
project employs food as a familiar
multi-sensory material to create playful
interaction between people from
dierent socioeconomic backgrounds.
Through this playful human-food
interaction, StreetSauce aims to
demystify some common stereotypes
and misconceptions about homeless
people and create a space for casual
conversations.
Homeless people are often not
able to eectively communicate their
needs, as they do not get a great deal
of attention from inuential public
INTERACTIONS.ACM.ORG36 INTERACTIONS SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER 2017
Figure 1. The StreetSauce principle and an “outsauced” story of Ms. Růženka.
The key a spects of Str eetSauce r ecipes
are sto ries and colo rs:
1. Each recipe is based on someone’s story.
2. The story pasted to www.makesauce.c z is
analyzed for its most meaningful keywords.
3. The keywords ar e visualized in a network
graph (each no de = keyword), which is mapp ed
onto a color spec trum wheel . Each keyword get s
translated into a color.
4. All ingredients listed in the online cookbook
are inscribed with a unique color, represented as
RGB value (e.g., tomato = red = RGB: #f0 5c2b).
The color is based on an i mage of the ingre dient
sourced from Wikimedia Commons.
5. E ach node of the graph (keyword) becomes
a color. The color becomes an ingredient . The
graph becomes a recipe. The stor y becomes a
sauce.
6. The resulting sau ce recipe is visualized
as a floc k of colorful dots re presenting the
measurement of ingredients.
7. The actual sauce is serve d in the street food
bistro as an edible representation of the s tory.
or various re-socialization programs).
Rather than creating a charity in which
the rich help the poor, StreetSauce
wants to reverse the stereotypical
socioeconomic dynamics: At the bistro,
it is the homeless woman who provides
food to the visitors—most often homed
people. Furthermore, the StreetSauce
food has “designerly” qualities that
are handcrafted and “narrated” by the
chefs themselves as a result of their
creativity. Instead of emphasizing that
the chefs are in need of help, the bistro
portrays them as active individuals
capable of performing physical and
intellectual labor in a responsible
manner.
In this sense, it is essential to
perform the speculative StreetSauce
service in the actual real-life context
and enable face-to-face interaction
between chefs and bistro visitors.
Presenting the bistro as a design
ction concept enabling vicarious
engagement, or as a scripted enactment
performed by recruited actors [3],
would be counterintuitive. Instead,
we decided to perform the speculation
together with the homeless women
and previously unrecruited members
of the general public, who are all
involved as “everyday stakeholders” of
the addressed issue. This experiential
speculative approach to designing for
socially aware services is at the center
of StreetSauce as a research-through-
design project.
STREETSAUCE STUDY
With the help of the Homelike
organization that facilitated contact
with the women, we initiated a
research study consisting of participant
observation at nine StreetSauce events
in Prague, an online questionnaire sent
to bistro visitors (n=32), and follow-up
interviews with the participating chefs.
The extravagant bistro attracted
both positive and negative attention
from passersby. Those who came closer
to learn more about the bistro concept
were most often willing to order the
food and spend some time talking
to the chefs (Figure 4). The casual
conversations usually evolved around
the speculative avors of served sauces
(“This is sweet! Well then I guess your
story has some sweet moments too?”),
which helped to break the ice and
created a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
While reecting on her experiences
from the bistro, chef Eva mentioned,
“At rst, I was nervous to talk to all
the people, but then I realized we are
‘playing the same game’ ... I mean, it is
so silly that you cannot be nervous.”
W
Although the conversations
sometimes stayed within the not-so-
serious bounds of “silly” chats about
the connection between the avors
of a chef’s sauce and her life, more
often they developed into longer
and more in-depth dialogues. These
usually involved visitors’ curiosity
about various practical aspects of
being homeless (e.g., where can you
go to sleep, eat, bathe, have sex, or
charge your phone if you live on the
street?), as well as more personal
themes, such as the chef ’s past and
present family arrangements. Chef
Helena recalled her conversation
with a young mom with whom she,
as a mother herself, shared some
ups and downs of motherhood. In
her words, this made her feel “like a
normal person, at least for a moment.”
This mutual sharing of personal
stories and practical knowledge
created—however briey—a space for
empathetic engagement unconstrained
by participants’ social statuses. Some
visitors even wrote their story into
the online cookbook to generate their
own recipe (you can make your own
recipe too at www.makesauce.cz). This
prompted our idea of inviting those
people to actually cook their sauce and
bring it back to the bistro next time, to
exchange their stories in edible form.
We have also created our own sauces
based on our personal stories that we
now occasionally serve at the bistro
together with the chefs. Thereby, we
aim to mix the stories of both homeless
and homed people involved in the
project and let everyone taste the
possible dierences (or lack thereof ).
Some of the StreetSauce chefs were
pleased that working in the pop-up
bistro enabled them to travel, explore
new places, and meet new people.
On our train trip to show the bistro
in Košice (Slovakia), Eva mentioned
that it was nice to leave Prague for
once, and “get on a little adventure.”
During another StreetSauce trip to
Brno (Czech Republic), Růženka was
even joking that her boyfriend (also
homeless) was getting jealous of her, as
she was getting to know more people
and becoming “all fancy and popular.”
Besides oering this emotional
and social support, the majority of
bistro visitors usually left a nancial
donation in exchange for the food they
ordered, which the chefs appreciated
as a good source of income. However,
INTERACTIONS.ACM.ORG SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER 2017 INTERACTIONS 37
Figure 2 . The StreetS auce bistro: C arrot hot dogs with narrative sauces s erved by homeless chefs .
Růženka mentioned that although
the work at the bistro makes her day
"a little happier,” it will never change
what people actually think about her.
In this sense, the use of food—an item
highly charged with personal values
and lifestyle preferences—to create
engagement between members of
dierent socioeconomic populations
might seem counterproductive. The
role of food in interaction design
objects thus remains ambiguous: On
the one hand, working with food does
not require much expertise and is
easily accessible to the general public;
on the other, the actual consumption
of these objects requires participants’
this material support is essentially
dierent from common charity
campaigns and rather than a product
of mercy, it is an expression of respect
for the chef’s labor.
At the same time, not all reactions
to the bistro were warm and positive.
Although the feedback gathered via
the questionnaire shows that the
majority of visitors were pleasantly
surprised by the chefs’ casual
appearance, some visitors were
hesitant to taste the food while not-
so-silently expressing their skepticism
about its hygienic standards. These
occasions were seemingly painful
for some of the chefs. For instance,
Figure 3. The edible story telling sauces enable bistro visitors to taste the possible flavors of
homelessness.
XRDS
Association for
Computing Machinery
A Manifest for
Digital Fabrication
Soft Printing with Fabric
Fabrication Lends a Hand
Digital
Fabrication
Crossroads The ACM Magazine for Students
SPRI NG 2 01 6 VO L. 22 • N O. 3
XRDS.ACM. ORG
XRDS
XRDS
Digital Fabrication
Soft Printing with Fabric
Fabrication Lends a Hand
Fabrication
XRDS.ACM. ORG
XRDS
SUMM ER 2 01 6 VO L. 22 • N O.4
Crossroads The ACM Magazine for Students
The Center and The Periphery:
Beyond Eurocentrism
Designing Locally,
Cannibalizing Globally
Jian Guan on Design and
Innovation in China
Cultures of
Computing
XRDS
Crossroads
The ACM Magazine for Students
Prospects for the
Internet of Things
Global Synchronization
and the Challenges of
Building Network Awareness
The
Internet
of Things
Crossroads The ACM Magazine for Students
WINT ER 2 01 5 VO L. 22 • NO. 2
XRDS.ACM. ORG
XRDS
A Manifest for
Digital Fabrication
Soft Printing with Fabric
Fabrication Lends a Hand
Digital
Fabrication
Digital
Fabrication
Digital
Crossroads
The ACM Magazine for Students
XRDS
XRDS
A Manifest for
Digital Fabrication
Soft Printing with Fabric
Fabrication Lends a Hand
Fabrication
WINT ER 2 01 5
VO L. 22 • N O. 2
XRDS.ACM. ORG
XRDS
XRDS
XRDS.ACM. ORG
FALL 2 01 5 VO L. 22 • N O. 1
Crossroads The ACM Magazine for Students
Seeks Student
Volunteers
Are you a student who
enjoys staying up to
date with the latest
tech innovations, and is
looking to make an impact
on the ACM community?
Editorial positions
are now open.
For more information
and to apply visit:
http://xrds.acm.org/
volunteer.cfm
INTERACTIONS.ACM.ORG38 INTERACTIONS SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER 2017
Figure 4 . Conversations at the bistro often evolve around the speculative flavors of chefs’ sauces.
trust and a greater suspension of
disbelief than interaction with other
less-invasive design materials.
LIMITS OF SPECULATION:
MAKING THE DAY ONLY
A LITTLE HAPPIER”
As an actual social service built
around speculative design artifacts,
StreetSauce has had both positive
and negative impacts on the
participating publics. The speculative
sauces functioned as a convenient
conversation starter that enabled the
playful and empathetic engagement of
people from dierent socioeconomic
backgrounds. At the same time, this
engagement was limited in time and
scope: Although the chefs appreciated
that the pop-up bistro made their
day “a little happier,” they remained
skeptical about its actual eects
on their personal lives and social
standing. The questionnaire revealed
that visitors who came to the bistro
with a marginal awareness of issues
around female homelessness gained
valuable knowledge; however, most of
them also said they did not plan to be
actively engaged beyond their bistro
visit. Only those who were already
involved in Homelike’s activities and/
or related social work were willing
to be actively engaged with the
issues also in the future. That said,
StreetSauce appears to serve only as
a partial contribution to Homelike’s
activities, rather than as a stand-alone
socially benecial service.
Instead of trying to solve the
problematic existential situation of
the homeless women involved, the
StreetSauce project aims for a playful
interaction and support beyond the
scope of usual charity help. Still, the
playful bistro engagement has raised
certain ethical issues. First, there is
a risk that the “silly” conversations
about the hypothetical avors of
homeless life might divert visitors’
attention from the actual—no doubt
serious—issues around female
homelessness. In other words, the
playful interaction prompted by
StreetSauce might well result in a
false notion of homelessness as a
fun and easy life situation. Second,
as a speculative service performed
on the street, with real people
rather than through personas or
A
scenarios developed in a research lab,
StreetSauce has actual immediate
consequences for those who are
involved. The impromptu, unscripted
nature of the project makes it
hard to control for situations that
might be potentially harmful to the
participants. An example would be the
negative reactions from some visitors
concerned with the cleanliness of the
StreetSauce food—and by extension
the cleanliness of the people who made
it—which for some chefs was painful.
DESIGNING WITH
THE UNPREDICTABILITY
OF THE EVERYDAY WORLD
These ethical issues call for a careful
design planning to minimize
potential risks, while at the same time
avoiding unnecessary determinism.
Designing toward a greater sense of
control should not compromise the
potential for chance and ambiguity
embedded in the project, where
the primary aim is to generate new
and often surprising interactions in
mundane street settings. The risks
associated with the unscripted and
sometimes unpredictable course of the
StreetSauce speculation are in many
ways aligned with the unpredictable
dynamics of everyday life, especially
when lived on a street. In this sense,
speculation (according to the Merriam-
Webster dictionary, “ideas or guesses
about something that is not completely
known”) seems to oer a suitable
method to stimulate empathetic
engagement with and among
individuals for whom uncertainty is a
“daily bread.”
The speculative component of the
bistro generated immediate real-life
experiences that were in some way
meaningful to all involved parties:
Along with the playful narrative sauces,
some chefs have overcome their initial
shyness and become more condent
when interacting with bistro visitors.
On the other hand, visitors got a
chance to know homeless people in a
new light, as “normal,” decent, and
approachable individuals. Finally, the
impromptu speculation performed
at the bistro, with all the surprise
moments involved, generated valuable
feedback that helped us to navigate
the gradual iteration of the design and
make better sense of StreetSauce as
T
a design research project. Although
we realize that these insights are
not yet solid enough to yield any
rm conclusions, we suggest that if
performed sensitively, speculation
can oer a useful instrument with
which to explore new, playful, but at
the same time productive approaches
to socially aware service design. We
believe that, as a form of practice-based
inquiry, speculation can function as a
way to advance service design methods
reecting the processual and often
unpredictable character of the world.
Endnotes
1. DiSalvo, C., Jenkins, T., and Lodato,
T. Designi ng speculative civics. P roc.
of the 2016 CHI Confere nce on Human
Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, New
York, 2016, 4979–4990; https://doi.
org/10.1145/2858036.2858505
2. Wakkary, R., Odom, W., Hauser, S.,
Hertz , G., and Lin, H. Materi al speculation:
Actu al arti facts for critical i nquiry. Proc.
of the Fifth D ecennial Aarh us Conference on
Critical Alternatives . Aarhus Univ. Press,
2015, 97–108; ht tp://dx.doi .org /10.7146/
aa hcc.v1 i1 .212 99
3. Elsden, C., Chatting, D., Durrant , A.,
Garbett, A ., Nissen, B., V ines, J., and
Kirk, D. On speculative enactments . Proc.
of the 2017 CHI Conferen ce on Human
Factors in C omputing Systems . ACM, New
York, 2017; 5386–5399; https://doi.
org/10.1145/3025453.3025503
4. Pasman, G. Design ction as a serv ice
design approach. Proc. of t he ServDes 2016
Confere nce. Linköping Univ. Press, 2016,
511–515. ISSN: 1650-3740
5. Hetmánková, R. Zpátk y ze dna: Zaostřeno
na ženy. Jako doma, Praha, 2013.
6. Dolejšová, M., Lišková, T., and Obert,
M. HotKarot & OpenSauce: Edible
story telling & design speculations. Pro c.
of the 3rd Bie nnial Conferenc e on Research
Throu gh Design. 2017; https://doi.
org/10.6084/m9.gshare.4746982.v1
Markéta Dolejšová is a Ph.D. candidate
at National University of Singapore writing
her thesis about design research through
edible specul ation. She has initiated several
food design projects, including HotKarot &
OpenS auce, Fermentation GutHub, and Food
Futures Salon.
marketa@u.nus.edu
Tereza Lišková is editor in chief of
Material T imes magazine and a founding
member of Cancel356 group, with whom she
designed the HotKarot & OpenSauce project.
She is a co-author of the “Made by Hands”
series focused on the combination of new
technologies with traditional techniques and
methods of production.
tereza.liskova@happymaterials.com
DOI: 10.1145/3121346 COP YRIGHT HELD BY AUTHORS. PUBL ICATION RIGHTS LICENSED TO ACM. $15.00
INTERACTIONS.ACM.ORG SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER 2017 INTERACTIONS 39
... This approach aligns with increasing interest to involve study participants in shared speculations in design research (e.g. [5,8,42]). ...
... Additionally, given the concept of multistability, we expected variant interpretations of these hybrid relations that can be as contradictory as they are diverse, yet always represent their "specific world". We previously cited broader philosophical framings of HCI [2,5,14,37] that introduce notions of subject-object relations and embodiment. Recent work has investigated how designoriented practice can ground and further inform these notions, particularly embodiment relations, including somaesthetics [14] embodied practice [43] and more closely related investigations of relativistic investigations of wearables [6]. ...
Conference Paper
This paper reports on a postphenomenological inquiry of six trained philosophers, who as study participants lived with and reflected on a research product we designed known as the Tilting Bowl: a ceramic bowl that unpredictably but gently tilts multiple times daily. The Tilting Bowl is a counterfactual artifact that is designed specifically for this study as part of a material speculation approach to design research. A postphenomenological inquiry looks to describe and analyze accounts of relationships between humans and technological artifacts, and how each mutually shapes the other through mediations that form the human subjectivity and objectivity of any given situation. This paper contributes an empirical account and analysis of the relations that emerged (background and alterity) and the relativistic views that co-constitute the philosophers, Tilting Bowl, and their specific worlds. The findings demonstrate the relevance of this philosophical framing to fundamentally and broadly understand how people engage digital artifacts.
Thesis
Full-text available
This dissertation outlines Edible Speculations, a methodological approach to Human-Food Interaction (HFI) research that addresses the growing role of technological innovation in food cultures. The approach is exemplified through two design research case studies that deploy Speculative and Critical Design (SCD) methods and extend them into participatory food events. At the events, diverse participants from the public — including farmers’ market visitors, maker faire attendees, and homeless chefs — came together to engage in material explorations of emerging food-technology trends and issues. Along with Edible Speculations, this dissertation extends present HFI scholarship with a critical and reflective mode of inquiry. While speculating together with a lay public audience, the approach scaffolds the growing interests of design researchers in participatory forms of SCD.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The HotKarot & OpenSauce project explores the possibilities of speculative food design in encouraging social inclusion and interaction among citizens of different socioeconomic backgrounds. The project employs the associative power of taste embodied in edible storytelling prototypes that consist of a carrot hotdog served with 'narrative' sauces created in the online OpenSauce cookbook. The cookbook enables users to input various text narratives and, using the network text analysis technique, convert them into personalized sauce recipes to be served in a mobile street food bistro. As part of collaboration with the Homelike NGO providing social support to homeless women, we designed a series of "StreetSauces" made of the life stories of nine Homelike's clients. Here we report findings from an ongoing series of design probes conducted at the StreetSauce bistro, with an aim to identify the challenges and opportunities of edible speculations used in the design-oriented research.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Speculative Enactments are a novel approach to speculative design research with participants. They invite the empirical analysis of participants acting amidst speculative but consequential circumstances. HCI as a broadly pragmatic, experience-centered, and participant-focused field is well placed to innovate methods that invite first-hand interaction and experience with speculative design projects. We discuss three case studies of this approach in practice, based on our own work: Runner Spotters, Metadating and a Quantified Wedding. In distinguishing Speculative Enactments we offer not just practical guidelines, but a set of conceptual resources for researchers and practitioners to critique the different contributions that speculative approaches make to HCI discourse.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
div class="page" title="Page 1"> Speculative and fictional approaches have long been implemented in human-computer interaction and design techniques through scenarios, prototypes, forecasting, and envisionments. Recently, speculative and critical design approaches have reflectively explored and questioned possible, and preferable futures in HCI research. We propose a complementary concept – material speculation – that utilizes actual and situated design artifacts in the everyday as a site of critical inquiry. We see the literary theory of possible worlds and the related concept of the counterfactual as informative to this work. We present five examples of interaction design artifacts that can be viewed as material speculations. We conclude with a discussion of characteristics of material speculations and their implications for future design-oriented research. </div
Conference Paper
As human computer interaction design research continues to expand domains, civics is emerging as an important subject through which to explore how computation shapes our public lives. In this paper we present and reflect upon a series of research through design (RtD) projects that investigate speculative civic contexts. From this, we identify and discuss tactics that can be employed in RtD projects: RtD as Representations of Systems Yet-to-Come, RtD as Prototyping Systems and RtD as Use of a System. Then we identify and discuss thematic interpretations of civics that emerged through our designs: Mediated Civics, Computed Civics, and Proxied Civics. This work contributes to discourses of speculative design, research through design, and those of civics in human computer interaction design research.
Zpátky ze dna: Zaostřeno na ženy
  • R Hetmánková
Hetmánková, R. Zpátky ze dna: Zaostřeno na ženy. Jako doma, Praha, 2013.
Design fiction as a service design approach
  • G Pasman
Pasman, G. Design fiction as a service design approach. Proc. of the ServDes 2016