Plate Pals

paper mechanics    industrial design


Explore sustainable production practices and address a single use product with paper.


Redefining children's meals on the go with sustainable, interactive tableware crafted from eco-friendly hemp paper. A product encouraging responsibility and learning through play while showcasing discursive design principles.


Hemp paper, homemade starch glue, vellum paper

Mealtime Unfolds with Plate Pals

Plate Pals was inspired by children’s colorful, themed tableware and calls from the guided content of restaurant coloring menus. The translucent packaging, with fun-to-rip easy-to-grip pull tabs, expose the colorful content: folded Plate Pal, instructions card with food facts, and wide handle paper cutlery.

Exploring Construction

The first explorations with single use tableware came from the goal to create an all in one product. The container, cardboard sealed with flour mixture, would double as a cup and the plate would be able to roll up and lay flat. 


Narrowing down the products audience allowed me to explore more. Using prinicpals of origami, I toggled ways to fold and unfold a tray. 

First Prototype 

The folded tray allowed more freedom to find how the form could encourage users to play with the product. I was able to embody the plates into animals: dinosaur, turtle, and hedgehog. 

Plate Pals leverages the quirks of its form to argue that children’s development should be in their own hands. 

Materials Research

The Frances Loeb Library @ Harvard GSD helped inform the materials and methods for fabrication. Hemp paper uses less chemicals and raw material, and can be renewed 3x more than average paper. Each cutlery is made of 6-8 layers of hemp paper, glued by a compostable starch mixture. 



With this came facts about the foods and nutrition the animals consumed in a reading level that met 2nd grade levels.

Plate Pals encourages fine motor refinement, visual + written instruction, nutrition awareness, and responsibility.


Plate Pals engages in practices of sustainable production to influence the delivery of its messaging. It argues that objects must offer users means beyond functionality to challenge our conventions.

whatcha doing down here?!
you might as well take a bear

Copyright Tessa Baum  2024