First International Symposium on Food Experience Design


London November 9, 2010

Hosted by Sir John Cass Department of Art Media and Design, London Metropolitan University

The International Symposium on Food Experience Design is a forum where leading researchers and practitioners from different disciplines offered their insights concerning the multidisciplinary and inter-disciplinary fields of design, food and experiential knowledge.

Opening welcome by Francesca Zampollo, Chris Smith and Malcom Gilles (London Metropolitan University Vice Chancellor).


SONJA STUMMERER and MARTIN HABLESREITER – The question is: what should food be like to be successful

SONJA STUMMERER and MARTIN HABLESREITER: In 2003 Sonja Stummerer and Martin Hablesreiter founded the interdisciplinary architecture studio honey&bunny productions in Vienna. They have developed and constructed roof expansions, have edited a fild (“Food Design – the film”), curated the exhibition “food design” for Vienna and Graz and taken part in numerous single and group shows. They have given a number of international lectures and taught ar schools including Bukarest RU, Istanbul TU and Chennai IN.

Abstract – The question is: what should food be like to be successful? For us the notion ’food design’ refers to the development and shaping of food. In our understanding this includes all the processes and decisions related to successfully designing food in a reproducible and recurring way. This now no longer applies just to the appearance of a dish or a product but also to the design of taste, consistency, texture, surface, the sound of chewing, smell and much more. 

Artisanship and design constitute an integral part of every culture. The design of food – food design, for short – is a subfield of conventional industrial design and thus a crucial factor of our civilization. Seen in this light, food design means significantly more than just the synthetic manufacturing or the alteration of food on the basis of genetic engineering. To be sure, the use of artificial aromas, the chemical synthesis of hitherto isolated basic substances and the utilization of novel modes of preparation play a role in the design of some foods, but to limit the notion of food design to these processes alone, would, in our view, be misguided. Food design refers to all design of food based on the rules of reproducibility and as such fulfills sensual, functional and cultural demands – much like conventional design.

LINDEN REILLY – Form on the plate

LINDEN REILLY: Course leader MA by Project, SJAMD, London Metropolitan University. Linden Reilly’s interests focus on the role of sense in imagination and the nature and operation of tastes. She is a member and co-founder of the Experiential Knowledge Special Interest Group of the Design Research Society, and is co –organiser of the international conferences on Experiential Knowledge.

Abstract – Form on the plate. This paper explicates some of the values and meanings that forms and informs the ways food is arranged on the plate.
Developments in cognitive science over recent years have brought new information to theories that hold meaning and value to be primarily located in the interrelation of the body to its context. This paper explores the implications of an embodied conception of the basis of value and meaning for ways we might understand the presentation of food; exploring food design in relation to a range of theories including: Arnheim’s theories of visual experience; Johnson’s use of ‘image schema’; and conceptual blending. 

JOHN EDWARDS – A Meal: more than just food

JOHN EDWARDS: John Edwards original training was craft based, followed by experience in the civilian catering industry, before being commissioned into the Army Catering Corps where for 25 years he held a variety of technical appointments in the United Kingdom, Australia, Cyprus, Germany, and the United States. Whilst in the Army he read for a degree in Foodservice Administration and undertook research leading to a Ph.D. in Food Studies with Human Nutrition. This was followed by a Post-Doctoral appointment in the United States as a Principal Investigator at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. He has written a number of professional articles and contributed to, and edited books on various aspects of foodservice. He is editor of the Journal of Foodservice.
Edwards is a Defence Fellow (df in Food Studies), and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Örebro University, Sweden. He is currently Professor of Foodservice and Director of the Centre for Foodservice and Applied Nutrition Research.

Abstract – A Meal: more than just food: A considerable amount of foodservice research, particularly with the rise in popularity of the so-called ‘Celebrity Chefs and profusion of television programmes, has tended to concentrated on the food and meal.  In many cases the design, preparation and presentation of the meal are absolutely crucial and we may well choose to eat in a restaurant, just to experience and sample the work of a particular chef.  In other cases though, the meal, whilst important, may not be the focal point and many other aspects can affect not only what we choose but could also contribute towards the enjoyment of the occasion.
It is only quite recently that these ‘other aspects’, the contextual factors associated with the meal, have started to be considered and evaluated; but in many cases, they may have more of an influence than the food itself.  When considering a meal, therefore, it is imperative that these ‘other factors’ are recognised and evaluated and the meal designed as a total entity.

BRENT RICHARDS – The Future Table Landscape © Defining a context for Food Design Experience

BRENT RICHARDS: Brent Richards is an International Award winning Architect and Designer, Academic, and Creative Polymath. He is CEO and Founder of The Design Embassy Europe an international transdisciplinary Creative Consultancy based in Richmond London. Previously, Brent was Founder and Executive Director of the Design Laboratory at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts (UAL) London 2000-2009. His role positioned him at the center of emerging design talent, the creative industries, bridging education, design innovation and enterprise. Brent was commissioned as Architect for the £1.8m Innovation Centre University of the Arts London – 2003-2006, providing radical creative environment for Research, Design, and Enterprise, and a drop-in centre for Corporate Industry. Since 2004 he has also specialized in the emergent field of ‘Sensory & Food Design’, for which he has received research funding from ESPRC and AHRC. He retained Consultancy with Fat Duck group (2005-2009) working with 3 star Michelin Chef Heston Blumenthal for the Fat Duck Group – Branding, Interior Architecture and Restaurant environment, Experimental Kitchen, Food narrative design, and latterly was Creative Director for the award winning ‘The Big Fat Duck Cook Book’ published with Bloomsbury Press 2008.

Abstract – The Future Table Landscape © Defining a context for Food Design Experience. The consumption of Food is a delicate interplay between need and desire. With cooking at the heart of this dance, the culture of hospitality and the rituals of indulgence provide
a human stage for giving, and sharing, whether expressed in the quiet social intercourse of a family meal, or the symposium* of a banquet. The whole process is measured by our pleasure and nourishment, and encountered through the senses .Our senses search out this culinary alchemy, interpreting and filtering the ingredients, recipes, and the science of the cooking, and are enticed and seduced by the gastronomic transformation that matches taste, flavour, texture and the dynamics of the cuisine. A game of attraction, seduction and consummation. The entire celebration reflects an aesthetic script played out on the white space of the Table, a Tabular Rasa for design and experience, an intricate flow between intent and understanding, between emotion and reason. This diverse and rich landscape of culinary traditions, habits and rituals, is what makes for creative cultural expression, and defines food as culture*, and gestures for a new medium for artistic and aesthetic interpretation. In a time of convergence, innovation and knowledge sharing we part of a proactive era of fusion, exchange and redefinition, but also a threat of cultural identity .The discourse between the physical and the psychological, the habitat of cultivation and consumption , hunger and obesity, are complex contemporary dilemmas that demand a transdisciplinary task force to explore and manage experiential design, and to lead to a more enlightened and aware response to the Future Table Landscape ©, as a fascinating focus for food design and entertainment.

FABIO PARASECOLI – A Cultural Approach to Food Experience

FABIO PARASECOLI: Fabio Parasecoli’s research focuses on the intersections among food, culture, and media. He is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Food Studies at the New School University, New York. Among his recent publications: Food Culture in Italy (2004), the introduction to Culinary Cultures in Europe (The Council of Europe, 2005) and Bite me! Food and Pop Culture (2008). He is on the advisory board of the international journal Food Culture Society and on the scientific board of the conference Food Culture at the Council of Europe. He is past president of ASFS (Association for the Study of Food and Society).

Abstract – A Cultural Approach to Food Experience: Food is pervasive in contemporary post-industrial cultures, influencing the way we perceive and represent ourselves as individuals and as members of social groups. However, the ubiquitous nature of these cultural elements makes their relevance almost invisible, buried in the supposedly natural and self-evident fabric of everyday life. As the physical necessity assumes a cultural dimension that in its naturalness and normality seems to provide stable meanings and social practices, food constitutes personal, shared, and communal experiences that can offer a privileged point of view to look at the way various models of subject identity, communities, trade networks, economic interests and political alliances are created, negotiated, questioned and, sometimes, eliminated.
The way we conceptualize and experience our physical needs—including the way we choose, store, prepare, cook ingest, digest, and excrete food—is far from being neutral or normal. As part of those experiences that are usually considered a mere expression of “natural” instincts and mundane needs, eating becomes culturally sensitive. Eating and cooking, as seemingly trivial and familiar experiences, offer an apt environment for the embodiment and the actualization of values, attitudes and behaviors that reflect widely accepted and culturally sanctioned templates. 

BRIAN WANSINK – Designing Taste Expectations

BRIAN WANSINK: Brian Wansink is John, S. Dyson Professor at Cornell University and is researcher in the fields of consumer behaviour and nutritional science and is currently serving as the Executive Director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), which is charged with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and with promoting the Food Guide Pyramid.
Wansink is best known for his work on consumer behaviour and food and for popularizing terms such as “mindless eating” and “health halos.” His research has focused on how our immediate environment (supermarkets, packaging, homes, pantries, and tablescapes) influences eating habits and preferences. Wansink holds the John S. Dyson Endowed Chair in the Applied Economics and Management Department at Cornell University. He is the author of over 100 academic articles and books, including the best-selling book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think and Marketing Nutrition(2005). He is a 2007 recipient of the humorous Ig Nobel Prize and was named ABC World News Person of the Week on January 4, 2008.

Abstract – Designing Taste Expectations. “You taste first with your eyes,” according to a popular French expression. Recent research has supported this general notion that expectations one has about a food can bias how much they subsequently prefer the food.  This basic confirmation bias, leads people to like foods they think they will like and to dislike those they believe they will dislike.
Aside from the appearance of the food itself, both culinary training underscores the importance of how food should be arranged on a plate.  Indeed a common Japanese phrase translates to “the look of the plate.”  There are a number of rules-of-thumb or basic assumptions made in such training, such as place the main component of the meal on the front of the plate, only present larger discrete items (small potatoes or brussel sprouts) in odd numbers (i.e., one, three, or five).  Interestingly, there has been no empirical investigation as to whether such rules-of-thumb do increase the perceptions or appeal of plated food, and whether this differs across cultures.  Knowing this would be of interest to anyone — chefs, marketers, parents, and hosts —  wishing to influence the perception, appreciation, preference, and intake of food.

ANNA CERROCCHI – Designing Food

ANNA CERROCCHI: Anna Cerrocchi is lecturer at the Polytechnic of Turin, professional designer and promoter and organizer of the Food Design® competition. Anna is also curator of all the events and exhibitions for Food Design®.

Abstract – Designing Food: What does it mean to develop a food design project? How does a food designer work and which peculiar features makes him different from the other designers? In the last eight years we organized six international competitions on this subject, interacting with several professionals and trying to match consumer demands, industrial requirements, new social trends. Through the work of more than one hundred designers, we got to know ways to recognize clear or unexpressed needs and different approaches to develop new products answering to these needs. We discovered food, packaging and tools conceived to follow us in everyday’s life, to help us remain in good form, to enjoy our eating time, to make us more conscious… new concepts that witness the changing in act in the world of food.

ART LUNCH EVENT: Imagining Food Experience by Andrew Pok

Created by Chong Boon Pok, Imagining Food Experience is an experimental art event organised and conceptualized in responds to the 1st International Symposium of Food Experience Design that examines the “emerging discipline of Food Experience Design”. The event seeks to connect two key features from the symposium: firstly, the manifestation of food designed for our eating experience.
Secondly, a speaker panel and attendees from different nationalities and diverse cultural background that are interested in the development of food.

In advance to the symposium, the registered attendees were asked: ‘What is the food ingredient that you think most represents yourself and/or your culture?’ Using recipe from my own culture, creation and experience, a selection of the suggested food ingredients, as the result of the question,
are cooked into a few experimental dishes to serve as the conference’s lunch. A long communal table is custom made for the attendees to enjoy their lunch together and exchange conversation.
Apart from advance food design using modern technology, cultural crossover in food is becoming a prominent feature in contemporary everyday life.

Imagining Food Experience engages the idea of globalization and cultural plurality in food, cooking and eating. The piece observes, blends and plays with food ingredients and recipes from different countries
and cultures to create new forms. It provides an opportunity for the dinners to expand their conversation about this environment. The piece also embraces the spirit of sharing and exchanging through engaging people to share a meal by sitting together in a communal table. It also allows them to enter and expand work of art by tasting it and taking it away to share with others.

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