The 3 Food related probe ‘provocations’ come out of work we have been doing on the future of food over the last year or so. When we start a project like this we don’t work with a specific brief – we define a terrain and form a pretty diverse team that looks at everything interesting in the field. We are generally less interested in design and technology trends at this stage and very sensitive to political, economic and environmental turbulence. The Habitat probe that we had worked on a few years back had explored ways of recycling water and waste which had taken us into the area of bacterial energy and root plant filtration. When we started looking at food production around the world we asked the question whether filtering plants could be a source of nutrition and energy as well. At the time there were newspaper reports about food riots in Senegal, Egypt and Haiti and even accounts of Italian mothers assaulting shopkeepers with handbags over the dramatic rise in the price of pasta. Looking into the economics and politics of rising food prices and theories about impending food shortages led us to create the “food farm” to test peoples sensitivity to the issue. We wanted to develop something initially that would supplement the nutritional needs of a family living in high rise accommodation, without drawing electricity or gas.
The ‘’diagnostic kitchen’’ concept is a response to the global diet business and obsession with calories and fat free food. We responded to the “weak signal” that in the 30 years of fat-free food marketing in the US, the obesity level had soared. Creating tools that enable people to manage a healthy lifestyle based on the specific metabolic profile of individuals rather than generic standards seems essential. We also wanted to ask the question whether the kitchen, as an assembly of labour-saving devices which emerged in the 1920’s, will will be transformed into a collection of diagnostic and diet management tools in keeping with our lifestyle needs. Knowing what a food ingredient contains, where it came from and what it has been exposed to is more important than how likely it is to stick to the pan.
The food printer provocation emerged in reaction to the culinary changes brought about by by so called “molecular gastronomy”. Turning “process” – historically associated with inferior, synthetic and economical – into gastronomic high art was very thought provoking. The tools that have been taken out of the scientific laboratory and developed in the kitchens of great chefs and artists like Feran Adria, Juan Mari Arzak and Heston Blumenthal (to name a few) facilitate a culinary revolution that is in its infancy. Our probe looks at combining the technology of stereolithography with the deconstructive and transformative techniques developed in this new artform. We wanted to test reaction to the idea of a kitchen tool enabling you to “create” a dish based on textures, forms, flavours and densities in addition to selection of ingredients. Some of the functionality we don’t want to go into just yet and will be exolained later when we show the fourth probe looking at the multi-sensoriality of gastronomic experience.