I received an email a while ago, requesting submissions for World Design Capital under the category of ‘food design’. I pondered the request and was really at a loss for how one could design food. So I decided to do some research. In doing so I came across the video below and was moved to tears by it.
Suddenly I realised that there is so much more to food than just the preparing and eating of it. In fact, there is opportunity for improvement by design all the way along the process of growing, transporting, packing, preserving, retailing, cooking, etc. Some examples:
- Industrial design – This covers things like farming processes and equipment, food processing and equipment, food storage, food transport, etc.
- Communications design – Labelling and instructions, branding, consumer awareness, advertising, etc.
- Spatial design – Retail space design, processing and storage facilities design, etc
- Service & systems design – Food distribution, dealing with waste, logistical efficiency, etc
- Science – Shelf life, nutritional value, recycling, etc.
- Urban design – Food gardens, urban farming, waste management, etc
- Experiential design – This is the category in which I would put the video above, designing experiences around the consumption of food
My mind was opened to the vastness and potential of design in food. If I had more time I would have informed myself further, but I was forced to shelve the topic until time allowed. So when I received an invitation to attend the launch of a new exhibition called, Design & Making [The Story of Food], I accepted without hesitation.
Design & Making [The Story of Food] is a collaboration between Iziko Museums and The Cape Craft & Design Institute (CCDI) which is the implementing partner for the Western Cape design strategy. This exhibition is an official World Design Capital project and runs from now until 12th October 2014 at the Castle of Good Hope.
Installations reveal how the story of food preservation, storage and packaging over time is vast and complex. From using found objects such as ostrich eggs and gourds, and objects made from clay, wood, grass and other materials, we now store food in freezers, plastic, cardboard, glass and vacuum-packaging.
And while we still have the same food types such as grains and cereals, in our current era there is a proliferation of ‘created’ foodstuffs such as energy drinks and same-size fruit and vegetables.
The exhibition story is told through installations and objects: a large group of historic African, European and Asian objects sourced from Iziko’s Collections stands alongside 30 contemporary objects created by designer-makers from the Western Cape. There are also examples of modern packaging.
I was very impressed by the exhibition. It is well curated and informative. It keeps ones attention through the use of mixed media. In addition to the historical and contemporary objects, there are informative wall charts and interesting installations and multimedia presentations all the way along.
I particularly appreciated the effective communication of the reality that we are only at a stage in the process of food design. We have come far and solved many challenges, but in doing so we have also created problems which in turn need to be solved through innovative design.
The launch event was well thought out with the various aspects of the event being inspired by elements of the exhibition. For instance, the Distell Foundation, as one of the exhibition sponsors, provided Zonnebloem wines for the event. Not only is Zonnebloem one of the older wine estates with a rich heritage, the wines were served in glasses made from repurposed wine bottles.
The food was served in interesting ways. For instance the starter snacks were in packets hanging from the trees, so one had to ‘harvest’ the food before eating it. One of the main dishes was served in an edible bowl, and so on.
A huge amount has been invested into this exhibition in many ways. I urge you to set aside some time to visit it. It’s not a huge exhibition, you wouldn’t need more than 30, maybe 45, minutes. And a visit to the Castle is always a treat!
Design & Making [The Story of Food]
Dates: 12 May – 12 October 2014
Times: 09:00 – 16:00 daily
Venue: Iziko Good Hope Gallery, Castle of Good Hope
Please note that entrance to the Castle costs R30.