Our exploration of Food Design in Milan kickstarted at the lunch table in Brera where Giulia Soldati invites her guests to eat by hand. You might do it at home sometimes, but here in the terrace of a milanese restaurant, in the middle of our group table and curious passers-by, the experience was strangely liberating. Still when Giulia and her associate cook laid strands of pomodoro spaghetti on the table it took experiments and improvisation to guide the slippery messy food in our mouths. As the table transformed more and more in a choreography or a study of movement, several directions appeared from striving for efficiency to adventurous hand gestures. While the main course challenged us to find our own eating techniques, with desert we could alter the dish and the taste with our own hands. A splash of cream, a piece of cookie and caramelised fruits could be crushed and mixed or layered or even scooped. The audience like ourselves already bewildered by the spaghetti, fully forgot the unease of the first course. By removing all the tools of eating, Giulia reminds us that design creates experiences defined by the intention of the designer.
Can there be an egg without a chicken?
Our next interest in the Milano design Week, was an unexpected but most welcome surprise. While in the via Tortona, we had the chance to get a full tour of the Material Futures exhibition by the graduating master students of Central Saint Martins (London), a group the faces head on today’s food and sustainable challenges with no compromises on their values.
Annie Larkins, synthesises an egg with 0% egg content but with all it’s characteristics: white, yolk, nutritional value, etc. In a plant based food future which directions will our plate take? Will we sacrifice efficiency to conserve the shape of nature or will we stray away from the forms of animal products?
Daisy Newdick’s proposal is to take the idea of eating local to “he world’s second most tradable commodity after oil” yet often unethically made and unsustainably traveled, namely: coffee. She attempts to brew an alternative coffee out of roasted dandelion roots: a resource that is abundant in Europe.
Finally Elissa Brunato experiments with organic matter to bring a solution to one of fashion’s most polluting products: sequins. Produced out of plastic and mostly in India, the leftovers of the stamps sheets and the trash of the industry greatly pollute the nearby agricultural lands. “The project re-constructs the materiality and the alluring shimmer of a sequin, to be entirely made from renewable cellulose and in this way circular and environmentally embedded” Another direction where we can imagine that the substitute will outshine the original material.
Further than those three highlights, the entire group showed a radical position and a distinct determination towards the future they envision, we are looking forward to see the finals result of their graduation this summer.
Is Human really the opposite of Nature?
After exploring the trail blazers, we visited the very established Design Triennial, in particular the exhibition: Broken Nature.
Broken Nature, although immense and therefore overwhelming, was a comprehensive display of most of the attempts and research in the realm design facing the anthropocene. Among the usual suspects many surprising proposals for an overall exhibition that was mesmerizing to get lost into. It feels as if the exhibition manages to show all the different current of thoughts that drive today’s design scene: biomimicry, anti speciesism, transhumanism, and many more. It is an incredible snapshot of our time, that you should experience for yourself if you can, as it is still running until the 1 september 2019.
Marie Caye and Arvid Jense