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Deli Dasher 

Products Studio III

Fall 2023

The prompt for this project was to enhance the portable meal experience

The first part of this project was to interview people on their own meal habits. I immediately struck inspiration with my roommate Christina, who has a passionate relationship with Deli Containers and what they can do for her. 

Exploration and Inspiration

Christina uses Deli cups that she has saved from restaurants to pack her lunches everyday, as a cheap alternative to purchasing Tupperware. Deli cups come in three main sizes, but they all have the same diameter lid, allowing them to be easily stackable.

I wanted to improve the experience of eating from a deli container by making them easier to carry around, especially in multiples. I also wanted to make the experience more "special", making one excited to unpack their lunch rather then just popping off the lid. 


The main body of the lunch box needed to function on a simple principle: expandable cylinder. 

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My first ideas included: a bag with a draw string, and an accordion like tube. From there I explored mainly telescoping type bags, in which rings of the bag would collapse over each other to shrink and expand

Some of my main concerns where the removability of the deli containers, if they were tightly sheathed in a tube, the eater shouldn't have to tip it upside-down to get the containers out. 

I also had the predicament of materials: the telescoping method would work best if the bag was a hard plastic, but I was afraid it would give an undesirable personality to the bag, making it seam more or a tool rather than a comfort. 

For fabricating a prototype I first needed to decide on the material. If it was hard it was  something I could CAD, but if it was soft I would need to make a pattern instead. 

First I made a cardboard modal to determine the correct scale, proportions and mechanism.

I also used this model to try out different shapes and contours for the lid.

With a lining material and an outer material, I wanted to see what combination made the most sense.

For functionality, every bit that needed to slide was made from the lining material (white tape) and the outer proportions the outer fabric (cardboard).

The wave mimicked on the middle layer gave a visual notice that the two shapes came together and aligned. From this I learned that it looks best if the inner ring is all the same material. 



I decided on the soft construction of the lunchbox

  • "friendlier" connotation than plastic 

  • fit better with the chef aesthetic I was going for 

  • I believed I could give it the rigidity It needed to function. 

I took what I learned from the cardboard modal and translated it to the first sewn prototype. This helped me think about actual construction methods, and the second modal was my final 

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for materials I chose a duck-canvas (porotyped in regular canvas for budget), and a thin polyester waterproof lining for the inside. This layer is also slippery, facilitating the sliding that needed to occur between layers.

In-between, I used a plastic canvas to make the rigidity I needed for the mechanism and a insulating batting.


Lining Material 

Outer canvas base with plastic canvas and batting 


within the middle layer there is a hidden button hole track that allows the middle section to slide up the base without dislodging itself.


I incorporated the latching mechanism into the handle to streamline it:

  •  put the deli containers in the bag 

  • close the bag (not needing to be the right size immediately) 

  • pull the ties tight and tie them

I originally liked the idea of a bow on top because it gave it a sweet connotation, reminding me of the tie on an apron, but if I had more time I would have liked to try a version with a simple Velcro latch.


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