Small and sustainable non-electric food storage


6 weeks

Featured in
Creative Conscience 2018–Shortlisted

Sustainability, Food Storage, Concept Design



Kobo is a zero electricity solution that keeps your food and produce fresh and cool. Fridges pose a serious challenge to sustainability. Their large size incentivises food waste, they use a lot of energy, and they are hard to dispose of. Kobo tackles all of these problems.

Kobo is made from natural materials, requires no power source, is easy to assemble, and produces less food waste than your fridge. Its small size and ability to fit on any countertop makes Kobo the perfect choice for millennial urban dwellers and those who care about the environment.



Natural materials

All the materials used in Kobo are recyclable and have low toxicity.


Easy assembly

Simply slot the drawers and egg shelf into the main body and pour soil until the point marked inside. The food cooling box lies on top of that and put the lid on.


No power source required

The main body of Kobo is made of unglazed earthenware fridge using evaporation. Its herb storage functions as a visual reminder to water the fridge and keep the food cool.


Proper food storage

It's designed to have 3 separate areas to help the user store food in the correct environment; A dark area for onions and garlics, a pull out vegetable tray to keep it cool and an egg holder in the shade.


How can food storage be redesigned to be more sustainable? Ever growing food waste is a big threat to the environment. According to a study, one third of worldwide food for human consumption is wasted. On top of that, most food we purchase often goes into fridges in our kitchens. Do they really keep it fresh?


People throw away food because they lose track and buy too much. They have a low awareness of how to store different food items appropriately.


Fridges pose a challenge to waste management. They contain material and substances harmful to humans.

Research and Insights

Interview and Observation

There was one person who had been living without a fridge for the past couple of months, which was quite interesting because she viewed the supermarket as her fridge. She's had this new lifestyle ever since her fridge broke down.


Group Research

Different food items are best stored under different conditions, which is something that users have a low awareness of. The specific requirements of every stored item are often difficult to meet at the same time with a normal refrigerator. I found that 10% of the survey respondents who set a specific temperature for their refrigerator, did it to protect their stored food. Moreover, most of them wrongly stated that they believed the refrigerator’s interior temperature does not have much impact on how long food lasts.


Unsustainable Fridges

A refrigerator has negative impacts on its disposal and assembly. It has a complicated structure for insulation, refrigeration, and shelving. Fridges are built with many different kinds of materials which makes them harder to recycle. The average longevity of a fridge is 7-9 years. Fridges are normally large scale which causes high cost in shipping.



Keeping in mind that the main idea is sustainability, I decided to design a food storage unit or a set of them which could save food energy.


Persona and Journey Mapping

Creating a persona to design for was one of the first activities in order to set a user to relate questions to in this human centred design project. I also mapped out the persona’s mood and condition when using a fridge. Setting up a user persona helped me demonstrate the possible locations and occasions as well.


Evaporative cooling

A zeer pot is an evaporative cooler used in rural Africa and the Middle East to keep vegetables fresh. They consist of two terra cotta pots, one nested inside the other, with the gap between them filled with wet sand. The sand serves as a thermal mass that helps keep the pot cold once it has cooled down, and acts as a wick to spread the moisture up the walls of the pot.


User Testing

Making quick card models and test them with the potential users to spot the problems in the process. I was able to test my models and make change in design details based on the issues they experienced.


Making the final appearance model

Full scale model is built with white painted MDF, vacuum formed lid and bamboo decaled drawers to visually communicate my idea and make a video storyboard.



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