Panino Italiano Magazine

Guilty pleasure vs functional design

Panino in English by Emeline Dany 31/07/2020

Guilty pleasure vs functional design, or why you should think about the goal of your “panino” before launching a format.

By Emeline Dany

Have you ever thought what is a sandwich and its use?

The sandwich is probably THE food format that you can find everywhere in the world and one of the best examples of food design. When you tackle the topic of food design, you learn that the product must be functional. A panino in its essence is functional: you have a container, often 2 slices of bread, containing a food that would be difficult to eat without a fork and a knife.

The panino is:
. prehensile (you can eat it without cutlery, and can be held by your hands)
. portable (you can bring it with you everywhere)
. fresh and fast of execution (made at the moment)
. balanced: often a base of carbs (bread), proteins (meat, fish or cheese) and vitamins (vegetables)
. and last but not least, customizable (based on your personal tastes)

Most of the time, people will have a sandwich on the go, for a quick lunch, when they don’t have that much time, and want maybe a “light” meal.

The beauty of the sandwich is that the combinations are infinite: typology of bread, ingredients pairing, sauces, size, shape...
The sandwich is also international.
But, as the combinations are infinite and international, over the years, a lot of panino makers decided to develop their own range, going out of the traditional tracks. And this creativity came with recipes always tastier and more generous.

The panino is as well a food that you eat, using your hand.
Using your hand increase the pleasure of eating.
Have you ever tried to eat a pizza with your hands vs. a fork and a knife? When you get the opportunity to lick your fingers, the panino is much more pleasant.
And here comes the long series of sandwiches illustrated with the #foodporn hashtag on Instagram. The more you stuff it, and the more it looks orgasmic.  Think about a fish burger of Pescaria or an Italian style Burger with one entire mozzarella di bufala inside...

This might cause a slight issue though.
The problem of a foodporn panino comes when you propose it to the wrong customer or at the wrong time.
Imagine a white collar that opts for a sandwich, as he needs to do a quick lunch before going back to work. He may even start eating the sandwich directly after grabbing it, while walking back. If accidentally some sauce falls down on his white shirt, he will probably be pissed off and won’t order anymore one of those sandwiches during his lunch break.

Besides, have you ever considered the height of the sandwiches you make? If the height is higher than a 90% percentile mouth opening, how people will eat them?  Are they sitting, and so, can they use a fork and a knife? But then what is the point of doing a foodporn sandwich if you have to use cutlery to enjoy it?

Creating a panino line is not that easy, it’s not only about thinking the perfect pairings.
You need to understand in which area you are and who will be your typical customer. If you are located in an office area, you will have to think people want to stay light for lunch (to avoid falling asleep in front of the computer during the digestion process) and they will prefer not to get dirty hands or stains on their clothes.
Your customer may as well eat with his colleagues. He may pay attention to what his colleagues think about his diet, above all in the big cities. So he could opt for a healthy turkey with salad toast when the evening at home, far from his work environment, he will enjoy a Carbonara pasta full of cheese...

What does it mean?
Beyond functional design, you need to consider the psychological impact of your sandwich on the eater. Which need at that moment the panino will address. Does your customer want to feel healthy? Does he want to experiment pleasure?
Maybe a fit person in a street food festival, will go there on purpose to get the most cheesy burger from the trucks and live a genuine freedom moment, or his cheat of the week.

In our post modernist/liquid society, a person can be healthy at one moment and ready for guilty pleasure at another moment. When it comes to sandwiches, the importance is not only to understand which customer you will serve but which area (offices, bar areas, festival) and which moment of the day you will address with your food offer.

To be foodporn or to be healthy, that is the paradoxal question…

Emeline Dany

Emeline Dany

Food Strategist

Francese, appassionata di cibo e design. 

Dopo 10 anni nell'industria come project manager nel miglioramento dei processi e il change management, decide di specializzarsi in Food Strategy. 

Convinta che si impari tutta la vita, dopo un master in Management & Marketing in una grande école francese, e una formazione in Design d'interni allo IED, ha avuto l'opportunità di partecipare al primo master in Food Design della SPD, lanciato per l'EXPO 2015. Ha seguito anche i corsi sommelier dell’AIS.

Nel 2016, sviluppa la sua propria metodologia di consulenza per progettare customer solutions a 360 gradi e si mette in proprio.

Insegna allo IED “ how to design a food experience” dal 2017. 

Nel 2018, avvia La Baghet, un concetto di eno -boulangerie su ruote e di organizzazione di eventi francesi (catering, corsi di cucina, degustazione). 

Scrive le sue esperienze di foodie sul suo sito e profilo instagram @lescalopemilanaise

Il suo sogno:

"Contribuire a rendere il mondo più bello per tutti attraverso il cibo".

>Per il consumatore: migliorando il suo quotidiano grazie ad esperienze gradevoli.

>Per l'imprenditore: assistendolo nella realizzazione del suo progetto di aprire un locale, pensando ai piccoli dettagli che fanno la differenza.

>Per il produttore: promuovendo la tradizione e il cibo di qualità.

English version

French, in love with Food & Design.

After 10 years in the industry field, as Project Manager in charge of Change Management & Product Launch, she decided to specialize in Food Strategy.

A lifelong learner, after earning a Master's degree in Management & Marketing and completing an Interior Design program , she had the opportunity to attend the first Master's program in Food Design, launched for the EXPO 2015 by the Scuola Politecnica di Design in Milan.

​In her free time, she also attended Sommelier courses.

In 2016, she created her  own methodology to provide food strategy consulting and design 360° solutions adapted to clients’ needs.


Because today’s customers get bored more easily and tend to be less loyal than in the past.

Because we live in a world where advertising and interior design are not enough to make a restaurant or a food retail concept successful.

Because nowadays, it's essential to design not only the space but the food and experience we offer to our customers.

Since 2017, she teaches “ how to design a food experience”  in IED school.

In 2018, launched La Baghet, a concept of eno-boulangerie on the wheels  and organization of french style events (catering, corsi di cucina, degustazione).

She writes her foodie experience on her site and insta profile: @lescalopemilanaise.

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