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Sou. - Your Virtual Cooking Assistant

At Harbour.Space, our students are our greatest teachers. Their growth is as instructional for us as it is important for them - therefore it is essential to our values that we recognise their progress during their time here.
This week, we spoke to Pavithra Krishnan and Priya Narasimhan, who are both currently Master’s students in our Interaction Design Programme.
Pavithra, or Pavi, is one of the most talented UX/UI designers at our university - she has consistently graced every class she’s attended with her fresh and positive design character, and she’s always a source of good energy for those around her. Pavi is graduating this September. Check out her website here.

Priya joined Harbour.Space this Spring. She came on the basis of distinctive visual design style, but she’s also quickly developed a reputation as one of the most amicable personas to join our student body in recent times. Priya graduates in March 2019.

One of the most frustratingly prevalent aspects of college life is cooking, so what better way to solve the pain point than by having our interaction design students tackle it through their team building and intuitive design work?

At the moment, Pavi and Priya are halfway through Irene Pereyra’s Presenting and Selling Design course, working together on a project called Sou. We caught up with them after class to talk about working in teams, developing ideas, and of course, Irene Pereyra.

“So, Sou. is a virtual cooking assistant. We figured that every chef has an assistant, so we designed Sou. to simplify peoples’ lives in a way that makes cooking at home easier, fun and delightful,” explains Pavi.

“With Sou., you get smart suggestions on what to cook, it helps you track recipes, save and share them with your friends! We want Sou. to redefine the cooking experience at your home,"adds Priya.

Pavi and Priya have established a strong partnership during their time as a team, but, as they found, sometimes making a team just starts out with common interests and a little bit of fun. They let us in on how they knew they were going to make a great team from day one.

“Um…well, we’re always eating together,” Priya laughs.

“I mean, we worked together before,” continues Pavi, still smiling. “We recognised that we got along well and that we have different design strengths. In order to pick a design team, you identify your weaknesses and find someone who complements what you don’t have. So in our team one person was more about structure, while the other focused more on visual design.”

Once the initial connection was established, it was smooth sailing from there.

It definitely helps to work on something you’re both passionate about.

“Working with Pavi is fun - especially when you’re working on something that you both love” says Priya. “We’re very similar people – in this case, we both love food, and we both are terrified of public speaking, so it worked out. It definitely helps to work on something you’re both passionate about.”

“Yeah!” agrees Pavi. “When we realised that we both wanted to do something fun, something light-hearted, we knew we would make a good team.”

As it turns out, a strong team is important, but concepting and developing an idea is another story. Pavi had conceptualised a rough idea for Sou. a while ago, but now they had to reconsider it and turn it into something substantial.

“It wasn’t that hard,” recalls Pavi. “Sou. has always been on my mind since I came up with the idea back in Kamran’s [Elahian] Zero to Hero class, and to be honest, going over it again makes me wish that I’d done something about it earlier.” She takes a minute to consider this. “But now that I’m working on it with a new team, (Priya) it’s an entirely different experience. Priya gave me a fresh perspective, she really added a lot of her personality to it.”

Priya agrees. “Yeah, cooking is something we always talk about, so developing an idea around it and making it personal was the most fun part of bringing this project to life. Sou. is something close to Pavi, and when the idea became close to me too, developing the concept came naturally.”

Keeping the idea alive is really important. You never know when it might come up again.

“The key is to keep at it,” continues Pavi. “At Harbour.Space you get so much inspiration and you work on so many projects, that a lot of ideas end up getting lost by the time you execute them. So keeping the idea alive is really important. You never know when it might come up again.”

This course was Priya’s first encounter with renown designer and Interaction Design Programme Director Irene Pereyra. Pereyra’s experience in the field and attention to detail have earned her the reputation of one of the most demanding instructors of Harbour.Space - something that really pushes her students to grow beyond their perceived limits.

“Well...I had a lot of build up about Irene from other students, so I was excited and terrified at the same time,” Priya laughs. “But she’s amazing. I love that she’s brutal - her “no bullshit, get your act together” attitude is exactly the kind of approach students need to grow. It’s extremely refreshing to get constructive feedback the way she gives it, especially for something I struggle with, like presenting in front of an audience. I feel I’m going to learn a lot from her.”

We wrapped up with some final thoughts on how to improve presentation skills, based on what the team had learned from Irene’s Selling and Presenting course. They had some advice for those who are not so comfortable presenting in front of an audience.

“Stay at it,” Pavi states confidently. “I am still terrified of public speaking, but the more I work at it, the easier it becomes. The company I was working at before coming to Harbour.Space had a designated pitch day, where you could come in and talk about anything. This keeps you sharp, and it helps to stay inspired.”

Priya’s advice was aimed at incoming students. “New students, listen up! Collaborate with old students. They are all experienced presenters and they know how things work, so it will become a lot easier to accustom yourself to the class and the demands of the coursework.”

“Exactly!” Pavi concludes. “Once you have a good team, just find what you’re passionate about and go for it - if you have a solid team and you’re both passionate about your concept, it becomes much easier to sell.”

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