(POST A) Food as Design? You bet!

In Indonesia, food is considered a form of design. According to the owner of the Eco-village in Kandangan, Pat Singhi, the way in which a meal is prepared, for example the qualities of the ingredients, how those ingredients interact together and the presentation once prepared, are all considered in a designerly manner. When thinking about food and design together, what comes to most people’s mind is simply just the visual quality of it, due to Instagram, food photography and the advertising industry. Though focusing on Indonesian culture, Singhi who comes from a small rural village and is a big advocator for returning to the village lifestyle endorses the simplicity in designing a meal from what is nearby and available.


Not only can food be designed, but the way it’s grown can be too. Whilst in Indonesia, a group of us went to visit Bumi Langit, a farm that specialises in permaculture food. This essentially refers to crops that have been grown without the use of man-made pesticides. The way they are able to do this is through making use of already existing natural systems, which optimize the growth of crops through optimizing energy and waste cycles. Nothing goes to waste in permaculture as all chemicals in the process, food and unwanted components are utilised in some way (Doust et. al. 2016).


Our group on a guided tour of Bumi Langit

Van der Beek (2013) raises an interesting point when they stipulate the role of food in creating a better world. Food is such an important part of our lives, not only that, it can act as a powerful social tool. For centuries, food has been a part of and even defines culture – wars have been fought over it. In many ways, food has purpose beyond filling you up, it nourishes, delights, brings experiences of different tastes and moods, it can elevate you or even bring you down based on sensorial associations. This is where we can start to think creatively about food that is cleverly purpose driven, and the technology behind creating them.


In thinking about how food can be design and designed, 3D printing technology has been one avenue explored by product designers that is slowly changing how we source, produce and eat. The Edible Growth 3D printer enables the user to grow what they consume by printing spores, seeds and a pastry layer to create bite-sized food with adequate nutritional value. The design behind this technology addresses food wastage and the environmental impact behind today’s food systems by putting these responsibilities into the hands of the consumer. Food systems could potentially move this way in the future with companies like Nestle showing an interest in making the technology available to consumers (Thimmesch 2014).

ed1 (1).jpg

3D printed morsel, rich in essential nutrients to provide exactly what the body requires

In opening up the discussion to what aspects of food systems are considered design, you are unlocking real potential to change and cater things for consumers. From redesigning complex food production systems to simply altering the way one prepares food for their dinner, all steps in the process can be enhanced when thought about critically with our environment and health in mind.




Doust, G., Gaudry, T., Lam, K., & Meland-Proctor, J. interview with Farmer Salas, February 18, 2016, transcript, Bumi Lamgit, Yogyakarta.

Thimmesch, D. (2014). 3D Printed Mini-Pastries Called ‘Edible Growth’ Created by Dutch Industrial Design Student. [online] 3DPrint.com. Available at: https://3dprint.com/17305/edible-growth-3d-print/ [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].

Van der Beek, S. (2013). What Design Can Do: The food system, hungry for design [Event Report #2] – TEDxAmsterdam. [online] TEDxAmsterdam. Available at: http://tedx.amsterdam/2013/06/what-design-can-do-the-food-system-hungry-for-design-event-report-2/ [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].






4 thoughts on “(POST A) Food as Design? You bet!

  1. It’s very interesting to consider food in a design context when we usually just gobble it up without a second thought. This notion is empowering because it means that everyone is creative and designing things even thought they don’t realise it! After looking into the fundamentals of permaculture and sustainable food production I really think its how we are going to have to approach food in the future as the natural environment won’t be able to keep up with the heavy demand of our global economy. I must admit I’m skeptical of how healthy it is to consume food that has been 3D printed but I’m willing to give it a try just once…

  2. Such an interesting concept Jamie! The visit to Kandagan and words from Pat Singhi really inspired me too. I never thought these principles would fit under the branch of design, but Indonesia really broadened my thinking!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s