Urban Kitchen Recipe Book

As a graduate student with a hectic schedule, I rarely have the luxury to cook at home. And if I ever do get the time to go grocery shopping, I often find myself lost, not knowing what to cook or how long it might take. Thus, unfortunately, I always end up at home with the same big bag of ham, bread, and frozen food.

Urban Kitchen is a recipe book that caters to graduate students in the Pittsburgh area who, like me, crave a home-cooked meal but are limited by time, money, and selection of ingredients. This book contains 10 recipes from 6 different countries contributed by my classmates at CMU that are easy, fast and made with locally available ingredients.

Role: Designer
Duration: 09.2010 – 12.2010
Skills: Communication Design, Layout, Synthesis
Tools: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop

I tackled the design from a utility perspective: How would I, as a graduate student, find this book to be useful? After some brainstorming, the following key features were consolidated:

  • Quick reference summary for each recipe
  • Rough background knowledge of recipe
  • Clear list of ingredients

From these three points I came up with an initial design, including tabs with concise information to allow fast browsing and decision-making. This design was tested on my peers to see if it addressed the above points.

Based on their feedback, I made several adjustments, for example, spanning the original one-page format to a two-page spread per recipe. I decided on a design that displayed the content with a readable and clean layout and at the same time provided a more structured presentation. After refining the individual pages, I started the process of putting it together as a book.

Initially I had a hard time deciding how to structure the book as a whole. The question was how I could meaningfully sort the recipes but at the same time relate its theme to Pittsburgh, the city where it all happened. I decided to sort the recipes according to its suitability in each of Pittsburgh’s seasons, assigning a base color to each for easy recognition. Consistent divider pages were generated to clearly section each season.

Urban Kitchen is available here for download!