The way we eat food—you know, through our mouths—hasn't changed a whole lot. But where the method has stayed the same, the processes that make up our favorites and tools we use to make our meals have seen radical innovations. The 2014 honorees from the Food category of the Core77 Design Awards vary from multi-purpose kitchen tools to breeding homes for insect protein.
Led by Eating Designer Marije Vogelzang, the jury team chose 12 designs that stood out among the rest and shared their thoughts on the work. Read on to see how cricket-infused cocktail bitters, liquid flower petals, edible Menorahs, and more:
Student Winner: 432 Farm: Insect Breeding, by Katharina Unger
We've been seeing insects pop up here and there in future-focused culinary designs, but there hasn't been a whole lot on how to keep our insect reserve alive and thriving. University of Applied Arts Vienna student Katharina Unger has developed an in-home breeding tool for insects—specifically looking at insect protein as a substitute for meat. "We chose this winner unanimously," says the jury. "This project stood out from the others due to it's high quality and designing every single aspect of the process. The project takes on a very current issue and transforms it trough in-depth research, design quality and the ability to make a very complex structure simple and understandable. Eating insects will still be quite a step for the western consumer to make but with this product the designer takes a bit of the horror away and provides a practical, consumer oriented product that people can relate to."
Student Runner Up: Food Radiation Scanner, by The Furious Fika
Japanese households located in the blast area of Fukushima are still suffering the consequences. The Furious Fika, a team from the Umeâ Institute of Design, designed a scanner that helps identify food with dangerous amounts of radiation, in a hope to make purchasing locally grown food safe again for consumers. The jury's thoughts: "A very powerful design for a very realistic issue. In many cases technology in combination with food enables loss of connection to the own soil. In this case the design is made to ensure a more firm connection, feeling of safety and trust in local food. Also it will help fight against food waste. Another interesting effect of showing this design at an international contest like this is that it gives us a glimpse into the reality of daily life of many. It shows us a creepy glimpse of something that could happen anywhere, also next to our own doorstep. A big issue is made tangible."
Professional Notable: Blow Dough, by Omer Polak and Michal Evyatar
Bread has been a source of sustenance for longer than any of us can remember—and it's been made and consumed the same way for just about as long. Omer Polak and Michal Evyatar have reintroduced us to the starchy staple with a new baking method that involves a blowtorch. The experience starts with seasoned dough that's transformed into herbed balloons with a flamed clocking in at temperatures as high as 1,112°F. The jury called it "a fun and engaging project with a very strong cultural aspect honoring heritage whilst innovating and creating a bonding experience extraordinaire."
Professional Notable: San Francisco Unified School District: A Cafeteria Designed for Me, by IDEO
The San Francisco Unified School District was looking to redesign their food system, and IDEO had the perfect solution. After discovering that only 57 percent of students who qualify for the reduced or free lunch program actually ate at school, the design team looked to turn the lunchtime experience into a more desirable option. The program features family-style dining, an app that allows students to pre-order their meals and give feedback and dinner kits for students with working parents. "Great to see 'system design' as part of Food Design," the jury says. "The project is certainly innovative and interesting but lacks a bit of transparency. We are keen to know the outcomes of the projects when it runs for about a year."
Professional Notable: Facing Food, by Roel Vandebeek
Sometimes it takes the simplest of details can help us remember to slow down and enjoy our meals. Roel Vandebeek's Facing Food dining set—designed for Serax—features a single dot on each piece. The 20-item set includes both right- and left-facing plates and bowls, making it comfortable for lefties and righties. The jury applauded the set's simplicity: "A beautiful and poetic design of a set of ceramic plates and bowls with the specific 'dot' giving character and playfulness to every single item."
Academy of Art University student Nikko Van Stolk's work takes home gardening to an entirely new level. Bloom uses 3D-printed flower buds that can be infused with liquid to create customized tastes and aromas. As the buds open, growers can pick and eat the juicy petals. "A very interesting and free thought about the possibilities of 3D printing," says the jury. "We do however find the design a bit too complex and wonder if it would actually work without becoming too messy. But we do appreciate the conceptual development of a poetic merging of technique, flavor and experience."
Student Notable: Critter Bitters, by Julia Plevin and Lucy Knops
As mentioned before, the act of eating insects still seems a little out there by Western standards. School of Visual Art students Julia Plevin and Lucy Knops look to bridge the gap with their beverage-based system. Critter Bitters is a series of cocktail bitters made with toasted crickets. The set comes with four flavors: vanilla cricket, cacao cricket, toasted almond cricket and pure cricket. Each flavor comes with a corresponding coaster, revealing the surprising ingredient hidden within the drink. The jury applauded the designer's attention to the traditional cocktail: "A very innovative project with a perfect link to cocktail heritage used to introduce the consumption of insects in an accessible way. The project has good in depth research and catchy design. It might have a positive spin off on actual insect-adaptation in the western world."
Student Notable: minuspoon & minusugar, by Jeongdae Kim
We all get a little heavy handed with the sugar spoon once in a while. Instead of focusing on a way to solve the issue by actively using fewer spoonfuls, University of the Arts Bremen student Jeongdae Kim focuses on helping the issue with a cleverly designed tool. His minuspoon & minusugar is actually a spoon/sugar cube duo that inconspicuously takes halves your spoonful—the inside of the cubes are hollow and the spoon has an inverted bowl. The jury weighs in: "A lovely and charming example of using psychological insight in a new design. Many designs try to change habits but this one understands that you can also make the approach the other way around. A small note from the jury: try to be careful not to make the project too patronizing."
Student Notable: Test Kitchen for Change, by Inna Alesina
The fast food revolution has taken a lot of the fun out of making our sustenance. Maryland Institute College of Art student Inna Alesina's work, "Test Kitchen for Change," looks to reverse that sentiment through the education of slow processes—specifically the creation of bread. "The jury loves the idea of having an interactive bread museum and was charmed by the various dimensions of the project and the fact that the design part is not as much a product as a process. We did think the name 'Bread Zoo' is much nicer than 'Test Kitchen for Change.'"
Student Notable: Polygons Measuring Spoon, by Rahul Agarwal
National Institute of Design student Rahul Agarwal's measuring tool will have all of you kitchen tool collectors clapping your hands. The Polygons Measuring Spoon folds flat and bends up into different increments—both in tablespoons and teaspoons—for easy ingredient measuring. "The design is simple, no nonsense, practical and unpretentious," says the jury. "We loved the fact that it could become a book-marker. We do wonder though how many times you can bend the material before it breaks."
Student Notable: In the End Nothing: An Edible Menorah, by Dan Olken
Syracuse University student Dan Olken gave the Menorah a delicious redesign. The entire thing is meant to be eaten—even the wicks. "We were very much charmed by the idea of designing a new ritual based on an ancient tradition," says the jury. "Especially the fact that the ritual will be more interactive enabling children or others to actually engage with it is very interesting. The jury does think the look and design of the Menorah requires some further development."
The best habits are the healthy ones that are made early on in life. Emily Carr University of Art and Design student Maia Rowan designed a five-compartment tray for kids that helps them discover food on their own terms. The tray itself is a made of both functional and synthetic products and plays a role as a working object and a learning platform. "A well thought out and positive design with a solid background research and use of co-creation in the process," says the jury. "We liked the multi purpose use of the tray and containers and especially the fact that this design is not as infantile as many other similar products on the market."