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Video: Marije Vogelzang Designs Marshmallow Clouds Video: Marije Vogelzang Designs Marshmallow Clouds

What is food design, anyway? Marije Vogelzang talks about funeral feasts, invented meat, and what she calls "eating design."

Click here, or on the image, to watch this video of Marije Vogelzang exploring the potential of "eating design" at the American Institute of Graphic Arts' GAIN conference in October.

I've already noticed, as I spend this week asking eaters and experts alike to share their thoughts about the future of food design, is that the first thing almost everyone does is try to define what "food design" actually means.

You'd think I would have seen that one coming and got out ahead of it. Sorry.

But, to put a silver lining spin on it, I'm actually pretty curious to see what definition of food design emerges over the course of the conversation. Earlier this week, MoMA's Paola Antonelli explained that in her opinion, food design happens at three scales: the molecular, the unit of food itself, and the systemic, with different opportunities and challenges at each level. Meanwhile, over at the Glass House Conversations site, Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG* framed food design in the way that I also think of it too, as "a much larger set of practices," which is already "happening everywhere, all the time":

After all, food is always already being designed and redesigned, every time a low-tech fruit or vegetable is harvested and every time an animal is cut down through particular butchering practices and served on the table. A useful but by no means unique example is Eiswein, a fully “designed” wine because the exact same grape, deliberately harvested later in the season, results in a radically different wine.


And this video adds another point of view into the mix: Marije Vogelzang calls her work "eating design," rather than food design. Her argument is that food is already designed by nature, and her work is instead to draw on the "origin, preparation, etiquette, history, and culture" of food to design eating experiences that tell a story.

Personally, I disagree with the idea that nature can take all the credit for the way food is, but I am a huge fan of the way she uses design to re-imagine the experience of eating food in all its sensual richness and social texture. In the video, she talks about creating marshmallow clouds made from rainwater, healing foods for hospitals, and invented animals made of soy protein. Enjoy, and then let me know what you think.

* Full disclosure: Geoff Manaugh is also my husband, although I didn't know how he felt about food design until Tuesday.

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