The Garden of Goodness

How often do you get to be involved in a project that uses all your skillsets? At my first meeting, I had the big Aha” moment when I knew that every random thing I had done over my working life could come together to help make this commission a reality! I was asked to come on board as part of a team of professionals to take the idea of an immersive, fantastical product activation into a physical experience. This was Food Design thinking AND Experiential design AND a lot of making ( all my favorite things) ….. lets look at some of the design thinking steps that went into this award winning project. ( Video uploaded to Vimeo by Danny Carlsen)

Expanded thinking and research about the subject and content…. What narratives exist around vegetable gardens, fruit orchards and the produce itself ? are there cultural aspects to think about?. How does each fruit and vegetable feel in your hands?

The physicality of the experience…. How will people interact with the objects? or move through the space? are there health and safety aspects to consider?

Materiality part 1… Research and development of required tools and equipment. Can we make our own silicon moulds? (Yes)

Materiality part 2… What edible material can be used to form the vegetable and fruit shells ? can it be transported? what is its shelf life? can it be adapted for use in both sweet and savory forms? how will the fruits and vegetables be “planted” ?

Culinary experiments…. Recipe development of fillings and the outer shells, make forms in components or fully formed? filling the shells? stability of the fillings and moulded forms? how to hang the fruit ?

Logistics…..Timeframes? People resources, packaging and transport? production schedules ? sourcing ingredients ?

Communications…. How to communicate efficiently? what are the timeframes for the other industries involved in this project?

that’s me “planting” pumpkins and hanging chilies

This is not an exhaustive list of all the Food Design thinking required but shows that the essence of design thinking, the real core is….. CURIOSITY !!!

“The TV beauties”, I hand finished these for a close up photoshoot and a TV appearance ( they are sitting on edible soil )

My part in all of this was formulating a vegan white chocolate which I could then flavour and colour to imitate real fruit and vegetables, which would also work across the sweet and savory fillings and be able to hold liquid fillings. Plus be strong enough to handle an air flight and transport from Dunedin to Auckland but equally fragile enough to be bitten into as part of the experience. Oh, and the making, moulding process had to be streamlined so a team of helpers could assist as we needed 3500 individual fruit and vegetables. As a food designer I love those tricky intersections , I was in my happy place… questioning, trialing, experimenting, problem solving. The end result was a reconstructed array of fruit and vegetables. The spiced Pumpkin form contained a sweet pumpkin pie filling sitting on a crumb “soil”, the savory tomato contained a chilled tomato gazpacho, the hanging pears where filled with pear and ginger vegan cheesecake mousse, the carrots had a savory outer with a miso puree filling and were “planted” in dark edible soil, the hanging apples contained an apple and chia smoothie, my favorite was the unexpectedness of the chilies, they had a spicy dhal filling with a vanilla infused savory shell.

Judge’s comments:

Quite delightful and playful and totally edible!

A little fantastical, sensory wonderland for all the senses – Designed in line with the food message to try new and different things

Best Design Awards 2018

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