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Design Brief: based on nine weeks studying an archetype object across time and cultures, redesign this object to further improve it in some way


Solution: a hand held cheese grater that shifts the traditional focus of the object from utility to its relationship with the user


The top of the object is recognizable as a handle because of the size, shape, material, and convenience. The wide steady base, in addition to the direction of the cut outs, makes it clear in which orientation the object is supposed to be used. The similar yet varying sizes of holes suggest that this object serves a particular purpose that has been adapted to accommodate different needs. The stainless steel body suggests that this item needs to be sharp, durable, and easy to clean.


  • Length (at the top): 3.25 inches

  • Length (at the bottom): 4.25 inches

  • Deptth (at the top): 2.00 inches

  • Depth (at the bottom): 3.00 inches

  • Height of the box: 7.25 inches

  • Height of the handle: 2 inches


  • Stainless Steel

  • Plastic (Polypropylene or polyethylene?)

  • Silicone

Primary Function

Alternative Function



The cheese grater is designed strictly around its function. The handle at the top provides ideal leverage for stabilizing the grater during use, while providing some comfort to the user by using a softer material. The angle of the sides also help stabilize the form as well as support an efficient and ergonomic position for the user’s downward grating motion. The handle is also the only inviting part for the user to touch, which clearly communicates its purpose.

The wide base gives the form stability as it is typically interacting with flat surfaces when it is being used. The enclosed space also serves as storage for the shavings during use.

In addition to the size of the holes, the size of the body of the grater directly relates to the size of related objects.



Citrus Fruits

The influence that different types of cheeses had on the design is apparent in the variation in hole size and shape. 

The medium sized holes are also commonly used to grate vegetables, while the shape, spacing and number of holes the largest holes specifically accommodate  potatoes to create slices rather than shavings. 

Tiniest holes are usually for zesting. Citrus peels are tough and contain a fair amount of bitter oil, so the consistency of the zest that is achieved by grating the fruits must be very fine, which is apparent in the hole size. 


How is the task of grating food solved in other cultures? While I am focusing on the box cheese grater, the form of the grater takes on different primary functions across various cultures as a reflection of dietary norms.





  • Similar to American

  • Grate cheese & veggies

  • Small handheld tools

  • Each serve a distinct purpose 

  • Simple, clean, utilitarian

  • For serving cheese as an appetizer opposed to grating large quantities for a dish

  • Graters designed for vegetables (not cheese)

  • Fresh ginger is a particularly important ingredient, and has it’s own ceramic grater

  • Cassava is a dietary staple

  • It's ground with an industrial-sized grater per town that is owned and rented out by a male authority figure. is photo shows a woman opperating her own mini cassava grater.


  • Rough around the edges

  • Durable and utilitarian

  • Not crafted with the ideal tools

  • Rounded edges of the handle

  • Large holes for grating a sizable portion of cheese quickly

  • Flexibility to grate cheese onto a cutting board/collection dish, or directly over their food

  • Difficult to clean

  • Designed for the optimal user experience

  • Form takes into account ergonomics

  • Chrome finish and gentle curves give a luxurious quality

  • Identical holes and uniform spacing suggest a machine made

  • Plastic handle and loop show the user how to first interact with the product

  • Dishwasher safe

  • Bowl to catch cheese

  • Spout to pour the cheese directly from the bowl

  • Option to grate through the top alone directly onto food

  • Small grating surface area



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