The inaugural International Conference on Designing Food and Designing For Food kicked off yesterday at London Metropolitan University. Presenting research, discourse, case studies and wacky boxed lunches (!), the 2-day event is the first of its kind to reflect on the multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary nature of food design. The conference presents 29 papers and 7 posters from academics, researchers and students alongside a "Projects" session that includes an exhibition and discussion of 12 selected food design projects. Each day ends with roundtable discussions that tackle subjects like the role of co-creation, product development and dining as Gesamtkunstwerk.
More of an academic colloquium than food-fun-fair, the conference kicked off with keynote presentations that focused on the role of "thrill" in food experience by Brendan Walker. Described as the world's only "Thrill Engineer," Walker was originally trained in aeronautical engineering before researching and teaching Interaction Design at the Royal College of Art. His work offered a lens on the most fundamental consequence of food experience: emotional stimulation.
Additional highlights included a talk on the architecture of medical mealscapes by Tenna Doktur Olsen Tvedebrink. As a PhD. student at Aalborg University's Food+Design Lab, she investigates the role of food in the medical landscape and its ability to heal. Her approach presented new theories that defined food design as interior design. She offered an approach, inspired by the architectural theories of Gottfried Semper, that dissected eating into a combination of the hearth (spaces that create a social focus), enclosures (gestures that articulate boundaries) and dressings (the decor that articulates theatricality).
Projects like Andreas Fabian's "From the Hollow to the Handle" (below) explored the role of objects in food design, presenting a series of vessels that questioned the notion of "spoonness". You can catch glimpses of them in action during this video filmed at a dinner at the V&A Museum.
All the theory was put into practice during lunch (!), catered by Stefan Gates of Gastronaut, a self-defined "food explorer" who cooks, explores and occasionally "blows stuff up." Stefan treated guests to lamb testicles, jelly-fish salad, billionaire shortbread (gold-leaf included), seaweed chips, yogurt and "bee vomit" (yup, that's honey) and Fizz Whizz (the UK version of pop-rocks).
Emilie Baltz believes believes food to be the most revealing part of culture and works in multiple mediums, both commercially and artistically, to explore that notion in the most robust way possible. Trained in Film Studies, Photography and Industrial Design, she borrows omnivorously from multiple mediums in order to deliver joyful experiences for consumers. The outputs of this practice are personal and professional, functional and fantastical. Her goal is to provoke delicious new perspectives on the world through social, formal and industrial processes.