Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Project One - Lesley, Jeannie, Karan, Steph, Wendy

We have decided to study the process of peeling an orange in order to find the most reoccurring difficulties people come across while peeling an orange. This is the interaction that happens before a person is able to eat the fruit inside of the skin of an orange, and is necessary to avoid the bitterness of the outside peel.

Design of the Orange

An orange’s design is biological. Most people know either by trial and error, or simply by observing the rough and hard texture of an orange that one is suppose to remove the peel first before eating the fruit. This is nature’s way of keeping the fleshy parts of the fruit protected by an exterior layer while still making it accessible to desired organisms.

Most people start peeling at the most tender part of an orange because it is easiest to penetrate. However, others may start at the firm nub of the orange as it allows for more control. More often than not, the rest of the work follows the natural curve of the orange.

Start and Finish

From observation, we have decided that the interaction of peeling an orange begins with the unpeeled orange. Therefore end of the interaction is the naked orange; however the end of the full experience is after eating the orange!

Steps of Interaction

  1. Obtain an orange.
  2. Supporting the orange in one hand, and with the other hand use
    1. one fingernail (preferably your thumbnail)
    2. multiple fingernails
    3. kitchen knife
    to dig into the peel of the orange, typically starting from the top or middle.
  3. Start peeling the orange
    1. in a spiral from top to bottom
    2. in vertical strips
    3. in random patches
    4. in an “elephant” form
  4. Continue repeating Steps 2 and 3 until the orange is completely peeled.
  5. Hold the orange between your thumbs in a position where the divide of two wedges are in the centre.
  6. Gently pull the orange apart at the divide into halves.
  7. At the core of the orange, there are usually white stringy pieces, called the pith. Peel those away as well.
  8. Now pull the pieces of the orange apart, and enjoy!

Research and Analysis

For our observations, we filmed various people peeling oranges in order to see how they go about doing it, and watching what difficulties they come across.

We also surveyed random people on their thoughts about the orange-peeling process.

What do you find most difficult when peeling an orange?
How do you solve this problem?

Problems With the Interaction

Despite that, there are still some difficulties for people while peeling an orange.

  1. Our group has discovered that the biggest problem lies at the starting point. Steps 2 and 3: digging your thumb into the peel and removing that first piece. Some orange peels are harder than others; some people have blunter nails or weak fingers; some people may be disabled; there may be no cutting instrument within reach -- all of these factors and more can attribute to why many people have a difficulty at the beginning.
  2. Oftentimes, the orange peel may also break in mid-action. There is a tendency for the peel to become disconnected, which makes it frustrating for some to restart or get rid of the patchy areas.
  3. Because a lot of people prefer not to eat the white remnants of an orange, they find it irritating to have to pick away at the albedo (the leftover white layer immediately under the peel) because it usually still has residue of the bitterness of the peel on it. It is also equally irritating for people to remove the pith at the core of the orange.
  4. During the orange-peeling process, hands and fingers may become sticky from the juices of the orange. This generally leaves an unpleasant feeling in the end, as the orange can be a very messy fruit to eat.


While it is difficult (and potentially harmful) to genetically modify the orange to sprout a pulling tab out of its peel, we could suggest ideas that may improve the experience of orange peeling, such as delving into the health aspects of orange peels.

In order to promote these ideas, we have decided that an advertisement campaign would best suit our goal. We will use ads that will encourage people to peel oranges for their own health and beauty benefits. In doing so, orange peeling essentially becomes appealing.

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