Non Dinary – A dining experience that looks beyond the gender binary

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Non Dinary –
A dining experience that looks beyond the gender binary

Welcome to Non Dinary, an educational dining experience focused on the notion of gender as a construct. Non Dinary approaches this conversation in an unconventional and lighthearted way. Our proposition is to create transformational journey for uninformed cisgender people to develop a greater understanding of gender non-conformity.

As well as this, the intention is to capture the level of comprehension on the wider spectrum of gender, the changes in gender acceptance geographically and over time and to better understand learning patterns to raise institutional awareness. 

MA1 – Team 1

Francesco Cagnola
Kiran Dulay
Kun Qian
Luwen Zhang
Saumya Singhal
Yue Yu


WHAT? 

Tell us what the concept is about. What are you designing? What are the key benefits?

Welcome to Non Dinary, an educational dining experience focused on the notion of gender as a construct. Non Dinary approaches this conversation in an unconventional and lighthearted way.

Preliminary research indicated that interactive experiences are one of the most effective and memorable ways to learn. Non Dinary proposes food to do this. The sharing of food has always been part of the human story. “To break bread together,” a phrase as old as the Bible, captures the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, provoke laughter. The experience is a metaphoric meal introducing how sex, gender identity and gender expression both differ and relate, what it means for gender non-conformers and the complexities it can bring.

By pairing up with existing restaurants to curate unique menus and learning from and with LGBTQ+ charities, Non Dinary introduces cisgender people to the concept of gender fluidity. Held in a communal setting, information cards are provided to introduce unfamiliar terms and encourage gender based conversation amongst the table. There are wait staff (‘Orientators’) to facilitate conversation, share stories and answer any questions. Upon arrival customers will select a pronoun wristband so others will know how to refer to them. This wristband can be kept after the meal and worn in solidarity of people who have come out and have to introduce their gender pronoun.

At various points during the meal, Non Dinary captures data in an integral way, such as through interactive play and information cards. The wider goal is to capture changes in gender acceptance over time and in different locations, the level of comprehension on the wider spectrum of gender, and to better understand learning patterns to continuously improve the Non Dinary method. The information gathered will later be used to advise governments and institutions on the societal views towards gender perception.

For those who leave the meal wanting to integrate what they’ve learnt into their life, our vision is to provide an additional platform to share stories, organise meetups and allow individuals to connect. By collaborating with gender non-conforming brands and artists the platform will be a hub for gender non-conforming fashion, music and events. It promotes restaurants who have collaborated with us on a menu and identifies them as gender non-conforming friendly. A future goal is to get gender non-conforming friendly restaurants marked with our logo on navigation apps and recommendation websites such as Google Maps or Tripadvisor. Additionally, the Non Dinary method can be booked as an educational tool in additional settings such as workplace LGBTQ+ societies, human resources inclusivity campaigns, or even in schools.

WHY? 

Tell us some of the key findings of your background research and what is the problem you are trying to address.

According to James Marcia, a well-developed identity gives you a good sense of self, which is a strong foundation for happiness. Identity consists of 2 parts: how I see myself and how others see me. A well developed identity is when these two align.

However, gender identity is not parallel with gender expression, meaning that if you identify as a women, you don’t have to dress as a female. Judith Butler, explains gender as performative “There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; that identity is performatively constituted by the very expressions that are said to be its results.” This is not widely accepted within societies and limits the freedoms of individuals.

Based on our interviews, there are many shared problems faced by people in the gender non-conforming community: Pressure to conform to gender norms. Uncomfortable and exhausting conversations explaining gender identity and expression. Fulfilling others expectations to make them feel more comfortable. Receiving disapproving stares or hate crimes. Inability to perform gender expression on a spectrum without ridicule or shame.

Worldwide, not all governments are considering people who are gender non-conforming. This year, 650,000 people in the UK didn’t identify as either male or female. Despite this, the UK government rejected gender neutral passports in June 2018.

With increasing awareness of gender fluidity and an increasing number of gender non-conforming people coming out, Non Dinary exists in a future where the conventional concept of gender and gender roles are being put under question. It will become more prevalent to know someone or come into contact with someone in this community. In 5-10 years time, this will no longer be something that we can continue to ignore. By consequence, governments and institutions will need to reset their attitude in a more accepting way. Non Dinary’s aim is to bring down the barriers between the gender non-conforming & cisgender.

WHO? 

Tell us something about your users and key stakeholders involved.

It’s an inclusive place where all are welcome, however Non Dinary is specifically designed for a younger cisgender generation for the best reception to the experience. It is also a place for close family and friends of gender non-conformers to learn more and meet others in a similar position.

Our target user is someone who wants to learn more about gender non-conformity but doesn’t know how. Given the way that the education system teaches gender, it’s hard to break free from ingrained gender discrimination. This can lead to confusion and hesitance to approach the topic out of fear of offending or being politically incorrect. Looking on the internet can be very overwhelming as there’s a lot out there, and can leave out the personal aspect of individuals’ journeys. Non Dinary gives our target users the confidence, terminology and understanding, that’s lacking in common knowledge. As the majority of the cisgender population are still uninformed about the wider spectrum of gender, Non Dinary will help them look beyond the gender binary.

WHEN? 

Give us an idea of the future scenario where your project will be working. 

Non Dinary experience is a cost effective initiative that could be started anywhere, as long as the venue meets food regulations. The initial prototype will be held in London, and given success, our vision is to expand out to other progressive cities.

By prototyping our proposition as an exhibition space, we will collaborate with a local LGBTQ+ artist to help create the interactive tools for data collection. This will allow each space to be unique and representative of the location in which it’s held. The ideal method of data collection is one of the key elements that we wish to understand during our prototyping phase.

In the early stage of prototyping we will cook for the dining experiences according to food standard. We’ve identified Wagamama as one of the first potential culinary partners to curate a menu given their support for the LGBTQ+ community and their “Make it Rainbow” campaign. With this in mind, we plan to take advantage of social media culture, by creating a hashtag to attract our target audience and buid our community. We will do this by giving our customers a fun and unique food experience which they can upload to their social media platforms and share with their friends.

WHERE? 

Tell us if you have thought of a specific location where to prototype.

HOW? 

Give us an idea of your strategy, your process, your prototyping plan and the next steps.

We united “when”, “where” and “how”

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