This Semester: Food Modules

January 12th, 2005 · 3 Comments · 2004 - 2012 Sketchbook, Education


How to fine-tune my courses for next semester? My 3D Design curriculum revolves around a final dinner party exhibition. We make chairs, tables, eating systems, fashion, food and entertainment (covering wood, metal, engineering, fiber, organics and performance).

I want to hone my projects so that the dinner party is more potluck-based. This would make the food prep so much easier for students, since our kitchen is limited. They can thereby focus on perfecting one dish instead of an entire meal. By “perfecting,” I’m talking more about the appearance as food art than what it tastes like. We all hope it tastes good, but really don’t have time or energy for that. “Go take a cooking class — this is 3D friggin’ Design.”

The problem with simplification is that I don’t want to take too much freedom away. A potluck is easier — but it might limit the eating system project. Students have made remote control plates, tube-based systems and such: not every dish in a potluck would be compatible, unless the food was in modules. This semester: food modules.

Category: 2004 - 2012 Sketchbook · Education

3 Comments so far ↓

  • Quinn

    Beautiful food that tastes bad aint worth much of anything. No offense, but you’re missing the point if you are cooking bad tasting food. You’re revealing an inherent flaw in many designers modus operandi, that where the design overwhelms function. I know too many designers, architects, etc. that will design something beautiful, but just doesn’t work when put to the test. “Sure it’s a beautiful building, but the ceiling leaks when it rains.” “I designed this wonderful chair, but if you sit in it too long your back hurts.” You’ve got a bit of overweening pride if you think that beautiful food in an of itself matters one whit.

  • Murray

    The meals created for the dinner party are usually delicious, despite my emphasis on the visual aesthetic. Function, in this case, is not as important to me as philosophy. It’s my passion to connect students philosophically with their work.
    Function is relative. It’s limited and governed by what the designer knows. I find that for students, freshman in particular, it’s more profitable to discuss what’s important instead of defining it. For example, if I dictate that all chairs must be comfortable, then the class loses the opportunity to explore other design priorities. I’m not just teaching craftspeople: I’m training my students to be both craftspeople and artists. Is a chair a poor design if the designer values different elements than comfort? What are the important elements? How will your audience respond to the designer’s priorities? Whose priorities are more important? Questions like these sharpen artists.
    I agree that overweening pride is the enemy. However, I believe art is in the process of a significant change. The artists who lead this next revolution will understand that good art should be created with a spirit of generosity, like a meal given as a gift.
    If I’m successful at communicating this to my students, whether or not their meal tastes good — at this point in their career — doesn’t matter. In time, their meal will feed the world.

  • Quinn

    Well, an uncomfortable chair is still a chair, but who wants to sit in it? Are you just going stand there gawk while your legs get tired? Charles Eames made nice-looking chairs, but mostly with an eye to function. But then, he was a designer. Not an artist. I guess there’s a difference. An artist isn’t confined to silly things like function.
    However, when you’re dealing with things that have conventional functions –chairs are to be sat upon, food is to be consumed– you have to deal with that function.
    Food without good taste is artless. The best chefs in the world make beaufiful food that tastes even better. If an artist makes food just to look pretty, than that’s pretty much garbage. What are you going to do with the rotting mess in a few days?
    There’s a fundamental reality here that you’re ignoring. Some things have meaning in an of themselves and you can’t cut that reality away with the knife of art. Food is for eating. Chairs are for (hopefully comfortable) sitting. And sometimes you sit in a comforable chair while eating great tasting food, perhaps someone you love is sitting across the table from you, and in that moment there is more true art than you can ever create with your philosophy.

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