Table for 5

a world of flavor, a table of friends

3 black iphones standing upright and next to one another. Positioned against a pastel yellow scribbled background.


March 25  - March 26 2023


Nitya Kumar, Emme Enojado, Jason Zhou


Riley Liu, Grace Zheng

My Roles

UX Researcher, UX Designer


40 hours, 3 categories, and 132 competitors.

Catalyst is a virtual nationwide designathon hosted by Boston University's Design Forge every year. Over the course of 40 hours, student designers collaborate to solve a design challenge and build a prototype of an app or a website that addresses modern-day problems.

the challenge

With more unified communication and information across humanity than ever before, how can we use digital platforms to share and empower our own cultures as well as the cultures we meet?

Exploring different cultures can broaden our understanding of the world, but it can also be challenging to navigate. For many, the prospect of reaching out to people from other cultures can be intimidating.

"I'm curious about other people's cultural backgrounds, but I’m also afraid I'll accidentally offend someone. As a result, I don't usually even try to ask about different cultural experiences."

Anonymous Interviewee

the solution

Table for 5 is a platform that brings strangers of different cultures together through their shared love of food and guided discussion.

The core features of this experience can be broken down as follows:


Cultural Potlucks

Sharing food is a language that can help people bond regardless of cultural background. Table for 5 matches strangers of different cultures together at "tables" for a cultural potluck.


A Game to Navigate Cultural Discussions

Our embedded game, "Pass the Salt,” helps strangers navigate the intimidation of asking personal or sensitive questions about culture. Users share their experiences through a structured format, which relieves users of the burden of treading cultural sensitivities and allows them to explore deeper topics and open up to others.


Table for 5 won first place for the culture track of Catalyst 2023.

I thought, I want to experience new cultures and new food, and then I saw this app and I was like, woah, this should exist in real life.

— Nitya Kumar, Product Designer @ Meta

Check out our full App Demo!

Taking a Closer Look


Interviews and surveys reveal a need for assistance and encouragement navigating cultural discussions.


Interviewees indicated they had concerns around being stereotyped or reduced to just their culture. Well intentioned discussions about culture often run this risk.


Cultural fusion, particularly for those growing up as second generation in America, can increase self-consciousness and feelings of "inauthenticity" leading to nervousness sharing about cultural experiences.


In spite of desire to share about and learn about other cultures, there were comments that staying "within my culture" feels the most comfortable.

Interviewees additionally all identified food as a universal, relatable language when it came to learning about culture.

We synthesized these findings in a primary persona.

Following some ideation, we converged on a potential solution:

We decided to create a meetup app for cultural potlucks with a built in discussion game.

final style guide & prototype

With our style guide, we wanted to provide a cohesive and consistent visual identity for any food-related content, with a modern and sophisticated look. Our logo is a visual of 5 bowls stacked on top of each other in a cross-hatch pattern, representative of not just food but also the intersectionality that is intended in our application.

The gold (#FFC629) and deep red-orange (#FF4C00) colors are used as accents across our pages and for buttons, with dark gray (#272D2F) and white primarily used for our text allowing for easy visibility.

The Poppins font is intended for headings and subheadings to give them a bold and modern look, while the Inter font will be used for body text to ensure readability.


As my first designathon, I honestly did not know what to expect diving in. I found that it was an excellent opportunity to think creatively, work under pressure, and iterate quickly on ideas.

A strategy I noticed that worked well for me and my teams during this experience was how me and my partner quickly established clear goals and objectives to work towards. This helped to focus our team's efforts and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Despite winning, both my teammate and I both acknowledged that our solution is far from perfect. Nevertheless, I feel that I grew as a designer as I worked with a team to generate innovative ideas. Above all else, this experience was both challenging and extremely fun, and I look forward to joining future designathons for the chance to do it all over again.