For the last two years, I've been a student at the Umea Institute of Design in Umea, Sweden going for my masters in Interaction Design. My final project was titled "Food and the Future of it". I chose food because it was something that everyone could have an opinion on, and that was important to me while choosing a subject. When I started the project, I tried to find a sponsor but found no takers- at first I was pretty depressed about this but in the end it gave me a lot of freedom and I don't think the result (which I like) would have been the same at all.
For starters, I was really interested in design fiction, and ideas as a product instead of one fine tuned concept as a product. Keep this in mind a little while looking at the work. Anyway early on I wanted my target year to be 2040, and a lot of the material I looked at suggested that we'd all have 3D printers in our house by then. Other material suggested that lab grown meat (which we have now) will be much more commonplace in 2040. I was also interested in this 'cloud' that everyone keeps talking about when talking abotut the future. So with those things in mind I started coming up with concepts, bouncing them off my classmates, and then making a prop for that concept. One time, I had a brainstorming session with my classmates by a campfire near the river. It was the middle of January and in northern Sweden it gets insanely snowy, dark, and cold. It turned out to be a great brainstorm session for food because it took us forever to get the fire started and we were all getting a little desperate. I passed around a microcassette recorder and we took turns answering questions and talking about the future of food.
One thing that was really fun about this project was just 'doing'. I was used to making rhino models of things, and then making a rendering. It was so great to make the actual physical props this time- the response from people was so much better. It was also fun to watch people pick some of the things up and tell me how they'd use them- a lot of fun. It was also great to make models out of actual food, imagine paying for your building supplies and your dinner at the same time!
So I guess right now I'll explain the concepts a little bit. They all either print food, or grow food. The ones that grow food do it by duplicating cells and proteins (something that we do now to get our lab grown meat). The printers use the same technology (only smaller and better) as the 3D printers that we have now. For this world, I've made some small devices that could exist. Human Creativity is absolutely amazing, and I'm confident that if people could design their own custom eggs, pasta, snacks, and other things then they would. And communities would be built up around these designs.
These printers and growers would run off of cartridges, a lot like printers today. Some would hold cells, and others would hold real foodstuff and have everything you need to do 'italian' or 'mexican' food. You know Kraft and Unilever would have a hayday with this. Also, fast food would never be the same. Firstly, Burger King will find that their name is too limiting, and drop the first and last letters off of 'burger' to become URGE King. Two things will happen at Urge King: One, they'll give you free spice cartridges with their brand image on them. You'll buy codes every time you want to print something on the cartridge. Now of course almost everyone will hack this system, but Urge King won't care because they get all of that free advertising. The second thing goes on at Urge King restaurants. They'll have the best, fastest, newest food printers. They'll also have all of the spices you could dream of. They make their own branded food, but can also print off whatever you want them to, just with the Urge King logo on it. Fast food will definitely have to do a lot of things to survive in a world with less cars and more people eating at home.
In the end, there were a lot of scenarios like Urge king, and a ton of other ideas that emerged from talks and brainstorms. In the end I could only do so much, and that's what you'll find in the previous posts. If you have any questions (and I'm sure you do), send me an email immediately at email@example.com . Thanks for reading this much and enjoy the rest of the posts!
Since the subject material is fairly scary to most people (growing meat and printing food), I tried to keep the visuals and the way I presented my work pretty light. For the poster that we were required to have at school, I chose to print it off white and just hand draw everything on there. I was so tired while drawing it I didn't worry so much about having to get it right in one shot. In order to unify all of the objects that I made, I made some laser cut place mats and wrote descriptions on them with a sharpie. Also, it didn't seem right to have one of those 'DON'T TOUCH' signs up, so I didn't put one up. One model has been broken though (the ultimate tortilla dipper that you'll see later). If people were interested in the work, I made some little matchbook style booklets that they could take. The original booklet was written on a typewriter that didn't have a working space bar or @ symbol (to explain the underscores and the hand drawn @). So far the show has gone great and people seem pretty interested. A lot of people are completely disgusted, but that's good because we can talk for a while about that.
This device grows and cooks eggs. The eggs themselves can be made with all sorts of things inside, bacon, kalles, cheese, mustard...The eggs are grown by duplicating cells and proteins, that eventually give you a perfect little breakfast. One nice thing about it is, you could have your egg cooked fully on the bottom, but runny on the top. I made some sample slices that you'll see below.
These are all of the egg slices I made. In the bottom right is the 'gridder', which I especially like. The one with the star shape is the '9-legged susan', and would have a good yolk to white ratio. Of course people could get whatever pattern they want inside of the eggs, writing messages to eachother or making DEVO eggs.
This is a modern update of the classic dinner triangle. This one, instead of making a sound, sends a calling out to your family members to let them know that dinner is on. This call goes through their phones, brains, or whatever is the technology in 2040.
A lot of the stuff that you grow on these devices would work off of something similar to these. Each chip has a few cells and proteins in it, which can be duplicated to make something tasty, like a steak or an egg. You could even eat woolly mammoth steaks - worked for the cavemen. All sorts of companies would get in on this, and in some cases the scientists would be rockstars. I'm speculating that some of those scientist/rockstars will be the Ludemann Society, and the LaDuke Brothers.
When the great apes have a good idea, we should use it. A real un-tapped resource if you ask me. This device is a snack maker, just as the apes dip blades of grass into ant hills for a quick bite, humans can now dip sticks into this device. Meat and other food is grown on the stick, and the longer you leave it in the more food will grow on it. You can eat some, put it back, wait for it to grow and cook, take it out, and then eat some more. Sorry about these pictures, but liver paste is the only thing I had on hand to put on the stick. I've also replaced the metal rods with thin, wood sticks in the final model.
This device duplicates proteins and creates a cheese like substance inside of it. When the time comes, stroke how many rows of cheese you want and watch it get extruded from the holes. When it hits the air it hardens. You can then scrape it off the device and enjoy your extruded cheese!
This pasta printer doesn't use cells like some of the other devices, it just liquifies the pasta material and prints out unique pasta shapes, one at a time into the green bowl. I think that whole communities would be built around people making their own pasta shapes. It would be a lot of fun. I've done some sample pasta shapes. Due Fiori sort of blooms on both sides when cooked. Agli in Camicia is a delicate open dumpling that you'd fill with meat or veggies before cooking. Casacci is random geometric pasta. On a side note, the green bowl was difficult to make, vac forming it first, then lasering it twice.
You could also call this one, 'the recession spoon'. It's pretty easy to use, you chop up some garlic, or anything with strong flavor, and put it in the pink spoon. After that, you put the white spoon over it (they fit right together). Then you just start eating your soup, and you'll have the flavor of whatever you hid inside the spoon in every bite. If you're really broke, and I tried this, you can just eat hot water with it.
This is some beef that is grown in your house. Aside from just the meat, there are thousands of little flavor beads inside of it. When you bend the steak, the beads break and the steak is instantly marinated from the inside out. To prove that it works I've cut the steak in the last picture so you can see all of the marinade.
The pentagons and other shapes you see on this potato are printed on your home food maker. They have little spikes on the bottom and stick right into the potato. So instead of wrapping your potato in tin foil, you stick these all over it. They come out nice and crispy, and add a lot of flavor to the potato. The flavor could be anything, but I suggest alternating bacon and cheddar pentagons. With a little onion every once and a while.
Genetically Modified food scared me, but for a minute I wanted to assume that it was totally safe, and what sort of things would people be making if it were easier to do. I thought that a fruit salad, all contained in an apple would be a good start. For the model I gouged out parts of the apple and put in slices of strawberry, cherry, and grape. I had to spray a little lemon on top to keep it from browning immediately. A very tasty model.