NEXT GENERATION WINNER
A young designer creates an ingenious set of
cooking tools (with accompanying app) that
enables her autistic brother to cook for himself.
For most of us, preparing instant pancakes from
a box is an easy, three-step affair. Gather and mix
a few ingredients, pour the batter into a hot pan,
flip. For Steven Savitzky, however, the process isn’t
so simple. He was diagnosed with autism spectrum
disorder (ASD) at 18 months and today, at age 20,
still lives at home with his parents on Long Island,
New York. For him, the kitchen is a distressing place.
“It’s a sensory-rich environment, and that can be
a barrier for someone with autism,” says Steven’s
23-year-old sister, Amanda Savitzky.
Cooking is a messy, chaotic affair, requiring
both gross and fine motor skills and a level of attention and cognition that can elude many with this
disorder. But on a rainy day in early April, Amanda
and her parents, Lily and Bob, gathered in the family’s open kitchen to watch as Steven made one
of his favorite foods—pancakes—by himself.
Steven navigated the kitchen using a colorful
set of tools called Match Cooking Prep System for
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Amanda
developed the system in 2012 for her thesis project in industrial design at Syracuse University,
and her pragmatic and thoroughly researched
design won the $10,000 top prize in the 2013
Metropolis Next Generation Competition.
This year’s competition honed in on an often
overlooked but pervasive design necessity in our
culture: solutions that help those with a special
need live an independent life. The guidelines
specifically asked young designers to consider
someone in his or her own life who could benefit
from inclusive design.
The Match Cooking Prep System encourages
adults with autism to gather, measure, and mix
food in the kitchen using an integrated set of tools.