The tangram is a classic Chinese puzzle that consists of several geometric pieces, called tans, with the ultimate goal of rearranging and combining all the shapes to create fun images. The motivation behind the Tangram Bento Box is to provide children with fun and educational lunches. Each compartment of the bento box is uniquely shaped to resemble a tan and as the child finishes their lunch, they will be able to remove each piece to uncover a special card at the bottom of the box. At the end of each meal, they will be rewarded with an interactive puzzle as they discover new ways to arrange the tans into their favorite animals. A stack of cards would be provided with the bento box, allowing parents to switch the puzzle at the bottom for each meal.
After finishing the 3D model and renderings, I 3D printed a functional prototype of the bento box and tested it. You can see the result below! Overall, I was extremely pleased with the way that this bento turned out. However, after functional prototyping, there are some things that should be reconsidered for a future iteration. First, some of the bento box compartments are too small to be functional for everyday lunch ingredients – namely, the two smaller triangles. In a future iteration, I would repurpose these into utensil holders or ice packs. Secondly, I would like to spend more time thinking about the case of the bento box. The current clear acrylic box has no secure closing mechanism and is bulky and difficult to pack. It would be interesting to experiment with a softer material similar to that of a traditional cooler lunchbox.