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EDL finalist Cai Wen Yao on creating a conceptual tasty Memory


A child saying “Why does it taste different today?” has taken designer Cai Wen Yao all the way to Milan, Italy. The simple sentence, overhead by the student at the Guangdong Industry Technical College of China, helped to inspire his design of the Memory coffee maker, which remembers how you like your morning cuppa, and replicates the exact flavours you enjoy most.

EDL finalist Cai Wen Yao is a design student at the Guangdong Industry Technical College of China.

Watching his family run a handmade furniture shop as he was growing up, , Cai had ample opportunity  to observe how furniture was assembled from wooden boards; and is also what prompted him to go into the field of product design. Although inspired by a traditional industry, Cai believes that designers need to constantly innovate, and bring their ideas into people’s lives to create new lifestyles.

His approach to design has resulted in the Memory, which he will be presenting to a panel of judges at the Electrolux Design Lab finals on October 25 in Milan.  We catch up with Cai to find out what makes the  Memory tick.

How did you come up with the idea for Memory?

I believe that everyone has their own unique ‘taste memories’ from their everyday life. It may be a meal or a dish cooked by their family, or candy eaten during childhood.

One of these moments may be enough for us to recall the entire memory clip, which is quite a nice experience. Tastes may be extended but those memories will still be there. I wish to store the best tastes favoured by each individual, which is also the original intent of my design.

In life, changes are constantly taking place around us, and many of the once familiar tastes may someday be lost. People want to get their favourite tastes in the simplest and the most direct manner and, as a result, they need a product to help them store and enjoy these tastes.


1.     What is the experience you hope  the user will have with this appliance? 

Firstly, a sense of dedication. Press your finger on the Memory and you’ll get a cup of coffee with your unique taste. The Memory knows who you are and what taste you prefer because you have informed it.

Cai’s Memory is a coffee maker that uses handprint recognition to personalise each person’s morning brew.

Next, a sensual sharing experience.  You can share your coffee as well as find people interested in it via the Memory’s touchpad. You can also use the Memory to make coffees with flavours favoured by other users. Memory creates a shared environment. What differentiates it from Facebook is that we can get a real and physical sensual experience with it. By joining the community, you’ll be able to get to know the coffee flavours and experiences of other users. Maybe one day you’ll be interested in what kind of coffee Obama prefers, or maybe one day Obama will be drinking the same kind of coffee as you. This is a new experience.


Can you describe your approach to product design? What do you think makes a good design?  

Before starting the design process, I’ll first carry out detailed observations towards the things and the environment around me; to understand people’s lifestyles, living habits, needs, and try to find out potential problems as well as unmet needs of the user by trying the product myself.

Do you have a favourite Electrolux product?

The fully automatic intelligent vacuum cleaner – the Electrolux Trilobite Robotic Vacuum.

It’s a truly innovative product. It lets me  understand fully the possibilities of intelligent products and how they  enable people to break away from household duties.  It  has also triggered some of my own  ideas for the future.

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