Final Project 4

My mission is simple; design a clear, functional box to contain a spice system that is appealing while it promotes a healthy lifestyle. Commitment is a main aspect in the success or failure of such system. My design piece is a representation of the dabbawalla food delivery service in Mumbai, India. A dabbawalla is the person who collects the home cooked meals in lunch boxes from the residences of office workers, delivers it to their workplace, and delivers the empty box back to the customer’s residence. The container used for food storage is called the tiffin box, which uses symbols, letters and numbers in a colour coded system to identify delivery addresses, giving access to illiterate workers. This profession is a highly respected and specialized service in Mumbai and has become an integral part of the culture of this city. The system is so integrated within the society, evidence being the 200, 000 customers and 5,000 dabbawallas using it for over a century. This system has a 6 sigma rating meaning it performs with 99.97% perfection. “You cannot replicate their system, but you can replicate their culture”, Dr Pawan Agarwal, director of the Mumbai Dabbawala Education Centre. This statement made my various design ideas connect. The secrets to the seamless system are the key values that all workers hold. These include honesty, passion, commitment, time management, execution and customer satisfaction. The health and efficiency are imbedded into the system. I think what is the most shocking is how the organization is flawless, punctual and accurate. Human ability and organization are able to play a key role in the success.

The method I used was to mirror the spice system that is present in the majority of Indian homes, while reflecting on the efficiency of the food storage and network of the dabbawallas transportation. I wanted to represent the 8 Indian spices that prevent cancer as a visual understanding of health and its effects on efficiency. I will give a quick summary to reveal the secret healing powers. Turmeric is able to delay the growth of cancer cells without posing a threat to the development of other healthy cells. Fennel prevents cell multiplication. Saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, reduces the progression of the disease and decreases the size of the tumor by half. Cumin aids digestion, checking production of cells responsible for prostate cancer. Cinnamon is a source of iron and calcium, useful in reducing tumor growth. Oregano restricts growth of malignant cells in the body and acts like a drug against cancer-centric diseases. Cayenne pepper induces the process of apoptosis that destroys potential cancer cells and reduces the size of leukemia tumor cells. Ginger helps lower cholesterol, boost metabolism and kill cancer cells.


We have the basic understandings about food, impacts on the body, our health, and visible effects on our performance. The main thing to learn form this is efficiency. What many lack is the understanding of how this cycle of food and use of spices truly impacts our whole society. When terminal illnesses arise, many people cannot pinpoint the cause.

When people make decisions about food, they tend to say phrases such as “I’m treating myself” or “One of these won’t affect me”. The problem is that every single thing we consume and introduce into our bodies has the largest affect on how we function.

It is much harder and painful to deal with an illness once it has arrived, but the ignored fact is that in some cases, it can be easily prevented. The simple and seamless integration of cancer preventing spices used to prepare various Indian dishes act as replacements for

medicine drawers. There is such an awareness and understanding of the benefits of these spices that it is impossible not to use them. Delivery systems also reflect parts of our North

American society where people in different classes would have access to certain

extravagant things while others would never have that opportunity. That is the same case

for being granted access to all of the spices, especially with people lacking the proper tools or facilities to be cooking food. This is why I decided to show all 8 spices through glass jars, because the knowledge of the health benefits are all there, no secrets kept, but the access to them are limited. Each jar or “tiffin” would be delivered to a single person,

only given access to one spice theoretically. The labels on the top of the jars represent the accessibility rating in comparison to the health benefit rating. This is able to show the correlation between access to resources and the continuation of knowledge.


After reflecting on the various learning experiences gained from spending time in India, one aspect that really impacted my outlook was the power of our resources. While we may have access to unlimited food delivery services and supermarkets, the wholesome ones are the only ones that matter. The dabbawalla system in India is the perfect example of

using available resources to deliver the best product. It also is an example of how much food and health is valued in India’s culture, by choosing to have a home cooked meal versus picking up fast food.The tiffin box delivery represents more than just a food delivery service.It symbolizes health and the history if Indian spices being used for trade while it carried so much value. When returningback home, it was very frustrating for me

to accept the functional food system we have in Canada.This puts the definition of function into question. A main part about architecture is the planning and understanding of a specific site. A complete comprehension makes the difference between success and failure. One must know all the facts before deciding to use available resources. Outsourcing and handed down knowledge seemto be the most trustworthy and efficient forms of knowledge.

Age-old kitchen tricks are little more than mere quick-fix tactics like saffron used to heal bruises or turmeric for rashes. Spices like turmeric and saffron are inherent with medicinal properties that, when incorporated to our diet from an early stage strengthens our bodies against invasion of toxins, bacteria and virus. Continuing the tradition of something such as a learned healing power from a relative is something that I now hold dearly. Continuing traditions relates to every aspect in our lives of living as we have been taught and designing using the same notion. Design can be taught to a certain extent but then it is up to the designer to pick and choose which spices of knowledge they would like to mix.


Virtually unchanged since the system was first conceived under the British Raj over 120 years ago, the dabbawalas are these days held up as a textbook example of efficiency and organization by admirers including the Harvard Business School, The Economist magazine and Prince Charles. This is now a modern example and framework for efficiency in businesses. It is fascinating to me that this mirrors a lot of the systems and ways that India works. When there is no technology available or when there are limited resources, heads and brains are used. Knowledge is valued with a deeperappreciation.  Despite monsoon floods, riots, terrorist bombs and the general chaos of Mumbai, lunch always gets to its man.