MDes Talks: Let's Talk Food and Design

The Business of Design Week (BODW) is an annual week-long event that happens in Hong Kong since 2002. It is made in partnership with a country or a city abroad that gathers designers and experts to bring a series of events to discuss topics, to inspire and think about creativity and design management. The School timetable has been adjusted as a result, to allow us to participate in it.

This edition was partnered with Chicago and launched new sessions covering new upcoming themes such as Fashion Asia, Workspace and Design, and an interesting topic that a majority of people would love to talk about - Food and Design. 

Why this two - Food and Design? And what kind of talk could result with this two topics?

Well, food is food. It is more than a need. It is an experience, a moment, a desire.

Food “Sharing”

Smartphone cameras, social media and internet connection have changed the way we eat and prepare food. Food snaps are more that what's on the plate but also an experience to make, and the adventure to try something novel or local when travelling. Examples are: almost 200 million #food photos on Instagram and counting, and hundreds of videos, each accumulated millions of views, shared from Tasty on Facebook with over 30 million followers.

Also, for Asian culture, food means sharing and gathering. Food on round tables can transform the pace of life of people where they can stay with people that are near and dear to them, having a pleasant moment and creating delicious, fun or even terrible memories.

Food & Gathering
Food & Gathering
Food & Gathering
Food & Gathering

For international students moving to a new city, food can not only become a reason to hunt new delicacies and to delve deep into the local culture. Food is a common ground; occasions around food are opportunities to meet people and make new friends, also ways to show gratitude or hospitality, to exchange culinary experiences and knowledge.

Brazilian food: Grilled chicken with rice and corn creamBrazilian and French desserts: Pancakes with Nutella and Brigadeiros (chocolate balls)

What Design Means

Design is as much as an outcome as a process - to think ahead of the time you are living in, and with elegancy and functionality, to look for pockets of possibilities to improve and intervene our everyday experience for the better.

Of course, this is the opinion and thoughts of an ordinary person, that enjoys cooking, eating, design and sharing moments.

However, what did experts at the BODW say about the topic?

Let's start with the team. We have Cécile Poignant, a French trend forecaster who was also the moderator of the Food and Design session. Other speakers include: Marije Vogelzang, an eating designer from the Netherlands, Martin Kastner, a Chicago-based designer behind The Porthole Infuser, Tina Norden, a UK architect from Conran and Partners, and Richard Ekkebus, Director of Culinary Operations and Food & Beverage from Hong Kong's The Landmark Mandarin Oriental.

Business of Design Week (BODW) - Food and Design
Business of Design Week (BODW) - Food and Design
Business of Design Week (BODW) - Food and Design
Business of Design Week (BODW) - Food and Design
Business of Design Week (BODW) - Food and Design

Designing an Experience

According to Cécile, Food and Design can be a complementary combination that goes beyond the display of the food in a plate and it is true.

During the presentations, each speaker shared their experience around the theme: from the design of the dining environment with the possibility of having the award for the best restaurant experience in London - to the design of experimental gadgets made like a piece of unique art piece, and to uncovering the experience, culture and behaviour beyond the simple act of eating - which brings two Michelin stars to a restaurant for their very special creations.

Lies among these different sharings is a recurring theme - how design can help shape behaviours and sensory perception towards the act and experience of, having a meal.

The Future of Food

Elevating the dining experience also underlies a critical design approach. Some speakers brought important questions and concerns such as the relationship between food and growing population, the search for a sustainable production of the raw food inside cities, insufficient meat production compared to the world population, alternative foods such as insects and laboratory-made meat and technology in food production.

Views from different directions have enriched the discussion and understanding of the topic. During the networking break, there were many positive comments since the event brought a surprisingly good topic, with amazing speakers, and interesting contexts.

Design is thinking ahead of the time, thinking about what's next, sometimes these solutions and ideas are ahead of time that not everybody readily accepts or adopt. The research and thus investment to these innovations are high which means an exclusivity for those who can afford and this misses the purpose of innovations - the purpose of improving the everyday experience for the better.

Photo Credit: Sylvia Yeung

Posted by Sylvia Yeung - Living the 20's years old issues and doubts. Born in Brazil, with the heart in Hong Kong. Graduated in Architecture and Urban Planning at Mackenzie Presbyterian University, Sao Paulo. Living and exploring the concrete jungle and mix of emotions contained in the city where the journey of the ancestors began. A current Master's student in Urban Environments Design (MDes).
MDes Talks is a series of Student Blogs contributed by students in different specialisms under the Master of Design Scheme. It is set out to share students’ first-hand experience in the d-school pedagogy, their projects, takeaways, and student life in general.