Futures of Food

EVOKING COLLECTIVE SPECULATIONS ON ASPIRATIONAL FOOD PRACTICES

Master’s Capstone Project, April 2018, Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology

Food is a central part of our lives. As technology is becoming increasingly intelligent and pervasive in our daily life, it is crucial to consider its presence in our mundane food practices. Our interactions with food, is one of the most significant factors in our own and environment’s health. This project proposes to use the ‘Research Through Design’ approach informed by the theory of ‘Capacity to Aspire’ to understand the cultures of different collectives toward their interaction with food as well as evoke collective speculations of their aspirational futures of food.

RESEARCH THROUGH DESIGN
A particular participatory approach to exploratory design that unfolds the creation of design opportunities that evolve around lived experiences. This project involved various design activities such as card sorting, design games, role-play sessions, what-if scenarios and making of futures, performed with collectives from rural and urban spaces informed by the tools of Speculative Design and Rehearsing the Future. Where, “Speculative Design is an approach that  enables us to think about the future and critique current practice.”

The design activities were formulated to intervene in the conditions of the context of participants to eventually uncover the aspirational futures of food practices.

URBAN COLLECTIVE

RURAL COLLECTIVE

The ethnographic design activities unfolded credible and meaningful practices of the future, around food in the environment of and by the people it addresses, before the idea is fully developed.

ASPIRATIONAL FUTURES OF FOOD UNCOVERED BY RESEARCH THROUGH DESIGN ACTIVITIES

PALATABLE FUTURES
An adaptation of the traditional game of Tamil Nadu, ‘Pallanguzhi’. This game is articulated to tangibly represent the aspirational food futures imagined by the participants of the research in a representational form that is commonly from the two collectives I intervened with. The game represents the ‘new knowledge’ derived from the ‘Research Through Design’ approach as well as act as a platform for generating more ‘new knowledge’ as people engage with it. As people engage with it, what would be interesting will be to see what people think about the existing imagined food cultures, the newly derived food cultures at the end of the game as well as other alternative food cultures they can envision.

CONTRIBUTION
“The days of designers dreaming on behalf of everyone have passed but designers can still facilitate a dreaming process that unlocks imaginations.”

On revisiting the design explorations undertaken in the two collectives of a city and a village resulted in the emergence of a range of patterns, ideas and dialogues with the theory of capacity to aspire, in view of their aspirations for future food practices.

This project identifies a scope for researchers and design practitioners to engage with much more attention to the people and the ways in which they interact with food in a desired manner, rather than the efficiencies and novelties new technologies may provide to solve certain problems or fears and threats presented by the future.