Image courtesy Jacopo Sarzi
The International Conference on Designing Food and Designing for Food in London closed with a series of PechaKuchas that covered a full palette of food design experiments. Brought together by design polymath Alok Nandi, this saucy menu of topics ranged from junk food to aphrodisia, with a concentration of presentations on pedagogical uses for food design.
Pedro Reissig kicked off the evening with a taste of "food morphology," a design curriculum he teaches at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and Universidad Di Tella, in which design and architecture students explore new structural concepts for food. Using the relationship between form and identity as his fulcrum for exploration, Reissig showed a slide in which he compared an Argentine steak, plated, next to an Argentine steak run through the blender. Which one prompted the gag reflex? Point taken. There's a reason meat smoothies aren't popular.
Pedagogically, however, his program has as a goal to encourage greater experimentation in form finding by encouraging students to explore the basic attributes of objects (material, technology, structure and form) in edible landscapes. Using the kitchen as their lab and appliances as their technology, students literally "play with their food," a liberating process that allows them to create novel structures that may inspire the next generation of food forms.
From the Center for Food Science, Design & Experience at Aalborg University, Denmark, PhD student Hafdis Sunna Hermannsdottir followed with a presentation on a Carrot Pavilion project. Part of an interdisciplinary project called FRIDA that focuses on turning meals in kindergartens from being passive to active part of kindergartens, the Carrot Pavilion is one of Hermannsdottir's research experiments that explores how food can be actively integrated in the daily routine of kindergarten, as well as in the pedagogical principles. The goal of the Carrot Pavilion was to create a positive relationship between healthy food and children by using play as the central driver of the experience. In collaboration with local architects, engineers, pedagogues and food specialists, the Carrot Pavilion, measuring 10×10 meters (with "walls" and a "ceiling" made of approximately 5000 carrots-that's 1 ton!), hosted a series of activities in which children were introduced to carrot-themed crafting, drawing and, of course, eating. Hermannsdottir cited that by the end of the night, the "walls" were gnawed through up to child-height and every kid went home with an orange face. Not a bad alternative to Kool-Aid lips...
Rounding out the educational talks, Jacopo Sarzi, a London-based designer shared a kid-focused snack project he designed for his hometown of Caligari in Sardinia. Designed for kids between the ages of 5 and 11, the intent is to foster an understanding of seasonality in children by incorporating sound, texture, taste and color into this playful experience. Sarzi's snack collection begins in autumn, taking as inspiration the stimulation and learning of this "Back to School" period. The wavy grissini base he designed for this snack allows children to playfully build-their-own bite, topping the bread with local, seasonal ingredients that can then be broken off with a crisp sound.
His winter-themed snack, inspired by the "ancient knowledges and techniques of preservation", uses cheeses and dried meats as "tree trunks" that hold cracker-leaves with which children build their own edible forests.
Spring, the season of blooming and discovery, is represented by a magnifying "loupe" of gelatin that allows children to, literally, look more closely at their food.
Sarzi finishes his project with a pack-and-go summer snack that encourages healthy nibbling at the beach. The layered fruit and cheese form creates a one-bite treat any parent would be happy to pack along.
International Conference on Food Design 2012:
» Thrill Engineers, Healing Foods Spoonness and the Gastronaut
» Food Futurologists, Seaweed Tarts and Feeding Fornication
» PechaKucha: Spaghetti Palaces and Carrot Pavilions
» Food from Waste and Wall-mounted Bread