London symposium to tackle challenges of ‘food design’

A seminar being held in London in November will aim to tackle issues in the field of food design.

The First International Symposium on Food Experience is being organised by the International Food Design Society and will be held at London Metropolitan University on 9 November.

Francesca Zampollo, president of the IFDS, says the concept of food design ’has always unconsciously existed’, manifested in ’designed’ products such as canned food or chewing gum, or in ’designing for food’, such as developing cutlery and crockery. She adds, ’What happened a few years ago is that food design became a distinct, separate discipline. What was before product design for food, or with food, suddenly became food design, a discipline in itself.’

Zampollo describes food design as ’a very vast concept that embraces different sub-disciplines’. She adds, ’I’m trying to develop a sub-categorisation of the food design discipline to overcome these differences.’ The sub-disciplines Zampollo is working to define are: food product design, design with food, design for food, dish design, design about food and interior design for food.

Among those who Zampollo considers to come under the food design umbrella are chefs Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal, as well as designer Marije Vogelzang.

Food design experts from around the world will be contributing to the symposium, including Sonja Stummerer and Martin Hablesreiter of Austrian architecture practice Boney & Bunny. In addition to working on architectural projects, the pair have also edited a documentary film called Food Design, and curated food design exhibitions in Vienna and Graz, Austria.

Stummerer and Hablesreiter will be tackling the issue of the development and shaping of food, responding to the theoretical question ’What should food be like to be successful?’ Stummerer explains, ’Our lecture will present research about the origin of the shapes and forms that our food comes in, the factors playing a role in its design and who it is that actually decides what the things we eat every day are like.’

She adds, ’Hot dogs, cornflakes or chocolate bars are mass-produced articles that are designed with a specific purpose in mind, and so are as much products of industrial design as cars, ballpoint pens or sunglasses.’

Stummerer says, ’Most people do not have any idea who develops the food products they eat every day, or where and how this happens.’ She says this is not only because food is a ’primeval, natural’ thing, the qualities of which are not questioned, but also because most food design happens behind closed doors, as ’the food industry is extremely wary of industrial espionage and negative headlines’.

Other speakers at the seminar will include Professor Brian Wansink from Cornell University in the US, who is currently serving as executive director of the US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, and LMU’s Linden Reilly, who will examine ’some of the values and meanings that form and inform the way food is arranged on the plate’.

Zampollo says, ’This symposium wants not only to emphasise what food design means, how it is used and how it could be used, but also to introduce the cross-disciplinary nature of food design. For this reason the six guest speakers were chosen from very different disciplines that all contribute to this subject.’
Design on a plate

The Food Design Exhibition will also run following the symposium, showing the best projects from the Food Design competition – organised by One Off and supported by the Torino Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the International Food Design Society and London Metropolitan University – which received 250 entries from around the world. The exhibition will run at London Metropolitan from 9-28 November

Latest articles