A good design must take into account the problems surrounding the tasks of cooking, the cost of making a product, and the types of cooking that will be most popular among the targeted customer group.
For those transitioning from home, where everything is prepared for them, to preparing things for themselves, One must first look at the foods that will most likely be prepared. Typically, the food must be simple to cook, inexpensive, and flavorful. The pan must therefore be able to facillitate these elements. For instance, pasta is a favorite of beginning cooks because hte sauce can be purchaced and the pasta itself is easy to prepare. All you need is a bit of salt and boiling water. So the pan has to either be deep enough to hold the pasta noodles, or wide enough. The wider pan will get hot faster which speeds the cooking process. It will also need a tight fitting lid, and should be able to help prevent boil-overs.
The p[roblem with this is that there are already a host of pots suitable for this purpose. So, can we make this pot a multi-tasker? Why yes we can. If we make the pan wide enough to lay the pasta sideways, and still hold enough water to cover, then when the pan isn't being used for pasta, maybe we can use it to make scrambled eggs, or an omlette. Is it deep enough to fry chicken in? Is it oven proof so that it can be used to make casseroles? Does it heat quickly, but still have enough thermal mass to fry a steak? Can I make a soup in it? Are there hot spots? Can it be used on an induction stove? Can it be used under a broiler? Is it light enough for the average woman or man to easily use? Do I want sloped sides so that foods can easily be flipped without a spatula, or should it have a sharp angle between the bottom and side? Does the handle stay cool to the touch? Should it have a glass or metal lid? Is it durable, or does it need special care? Whould the lid lock on? Does it need drain holes? Can it withstand greater than atmospheric pressures? What happens if the pan is screaming hot and is suddenly immersed into ice water?
If you are designing a pan, you need to ask yourself all of these questions and more. Then, you need to try many pans in your own home, learn how they work, what they are good for, and what are their strengths and weakneses. Then, try to figure out how to combine functions, and maximise the utility of the pan while elliminating as many weaknesses as possible.
You have picked an interesting project. I wish you luck. I believe that a wide pan, with rounded sides that slope slightly straight up and down at the top, and made with a sturdy metal such as stainless steel would be a useful pot, especially if it has a good lid. The key to this pot/pan is to make it of high quality, insuring that it has no hot spots, has plenty of thermal mass, and is marketed with materials that can show the versatility of the pan. It won't be a truly new pan, but rather, it will be a great pan that has more uses than most people know how to use it for.
Hope that helps.
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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