(Source: Instagram <https://www.instagram.com/breakfastinsydney/> )
“Can we eat yet?” is a question I hear far too often from my friends when eating out. Over the past few years the term “Foodstagramming” has been coined. As most creative people use their own distinctive designed themes, such as the colour palette for their Instagram, we can all gauge that Instagram is an important social media tool used for marketing and branding oneself. The upside to Western Society’s frivolous obsession with photographing food is that it is lending itself to design innovations.
A lighting box to photograph food before you eat with the active hashtag #dinnercam. (MWEB, 2014).
This is an initiative to enable restaurant patrons to photograph their food in a well-lit manner before enjoying their meal. There is even a restaurant in the UK known as “The Picture House” that implements a process of photographing your meal then posting it to Instagram as a form of payment (Knibbs, 2014).
Undoubtedly food presentation is a design form within itself. I confess that I am also frequently guilty of photographing my lunch in order to achieve a winning shot to compliment my Instagram aesthetic. The prevalence of social media has taken the art of food photography to the everyday user. Arguably this could be a positive and inclusive thing for everyday social media users. However the practice has its critics and has generated a plethora of opinionated and satirical pieces deriding the concept of sharing meals on social media.
After visiting Indonesia recently, my entire perspective of food and design has changed. Whilst staying in Kandagan village, Pat Singhi the founder of Spedagi led us through three design workshops. They included Basket weaving and cooking. Initially I was stumped as to why preparing a drink would be included in a design workshop. Singhi spoke to us about how design can be derived from the most basic principles. Ingredients from our surroundings are taken and “designed” in order to perform a functional task. The functional task is our nutritional fulfilment essential for our survival.
The cultural differences evident in the Sydney lifestyle that I observe daily, are that we often take for granted the resources we consume and this is especially true in the more affluent social demographic. Exposure to a rural Indonesian lifestyle reinforced that food resources exist to be designed for the function of our meals. In Western society the majority of us merely observe the form-classically it is perennially form over function. Singhi emphasised the importance of using local resources in order to sustain the environment and village by sourcing ingredients locally. Despite the fact that there are hypothetically sufficient food supplies, inherent problems in distribution have resulted in food being too expensive for Indonesia’s poorer people. As a result, Indonesia’s goal has become one of sustainability when it comes to food resources. This was the driver for the enactment of the National Food Law. Indonesia aims to have 90 percent of resources sourced locally and self sufficiency (Nunzio,J. 2013). Whilst something so vital for life is often not genuinely appreciated by the affluent, it is clear that in developing countries such as Indonesia food ingredients and the ultimate meal are treasured for their functional use. Design is integral to satisfying a fundamental human need and not merely an arbitrary aesthetic simply relegated to an appreciation of form.
2016-last update [Homepage of MWEB], [Online]. Available: http://www.mweb.co.za/ [April 1, .2016]
Hungry Neighbours? Indonesia’s Food Strategy and Water Security Future 2013, 11 November-last update [Homepage of Future Directions International], [Online]. Available:http://www.futuredirections.org.au/publication/hungry-neighbours-indonesia-s-food-strategy-and-water-security-future/ [April, 1, 2016].
Knibbs, K. 2014, May 14-last update, This restaurant lets you pay by Instagramming your food [Homepage of The Daily Dot], [Online]. Available: http://www.dailydot.com/technology/free-meal-instagram/ [2016, April 1st].
Stampler, L. 2014, April 30-last update, Instagramming Food Has Finally Gone Too Far [Homepage of Time Magazine], [Online]. Available: http://time.com/83046/instagramming-food-has-finally-gone-too-far/ [2016, April 1].