Future Food

Posted 04/03/15 by Howard Sullivan

In the 90s food was deconstructed, in the noughties food became gastronomic and experimental (cue Heston's eating food with headphones playing sounds from the sea), we're now in a really exciting generation where food is becoming fully immersive and experiential. I was inspired by Sean Rogg's The Waldorf Project to check out what the latest food experiences were and where our culinary adventures may take us in the future.

“The more we can understand the interconnection between the five senses, the more we can affect them."
- Sean Rogg, The Waldorf Project

Immersive Eating Environments

Sean Rogg, the mastermind behind The Waldorf Project, uses food as just one sensory element of the full body experiences he designs. His installation in London last month, The Waldorf Project: Chapter Two: Colour, took the dining experience to a whole new level, curating sound artists, choreographers and designers to create seven distinct architectural environments exploring colour.

He describes his motivation behind the event came from the first immersive installation he created, WATER, where he brought over 1000 bottles of sparkling water he'd collected from different locations around the world to a ten day tasting event held at The Wapping Project. When he saw the participants drinking the water, he felt the work was complete:

"As I saw the water being consumed by the guests and interpreted, I saw a total art form, one that is taken in through all the senses"¹

Sean's approach liberates food from the plate and encourages our participation in it to be much more than merely devouring something a Michelin starred chef has put in front of us:

"To actually create a new art form, one in which the guest literally consumes the artwork through all the senses, this meant removing any connection to a restaurant environment, instead creating an installation that the guests explore. It also meant working with a team of minds that were future thinking enough to bring my ideas to life, so involving (for example) a food designer rather than a chef and a sound designer rather than a musician."²
At Sean Rogg’s Waldorf Project, diners ate through a series of dishes exploring colour in distinct architectural environments

Food presented in colour baths of blue light at Sean Rogg’s Waldorf Project, London, 2015

‘Food objects’ are presented in contexts to remove all preconceptions and make us challenge the eating experience afresh


Food and Communication
“There is no material that comes as close to human beings as food."
- Marije Vogelzang, Eating Designer

Can you eat concepts or digest an abstract idea? Some eating designers have worked with notable societies and taken on big subjects, using food as one of their mediums to convey an idea. From the recipes that we pass down in our families, food has always had richer meanings and emotional connections beyond it's nutritional function. This concept is another facet of food design that is being explored by a new generation of eating designers.

Laura Gottlieb, a communications student from London’s Royal College of Art, created a participatory food event for her recent work in progress show. In 'Philosophical Teatime’, Laura created a web sign-up for an afternoon tea which was served from 3.00 - 4.00pm every day offering ‘tea, cakes and existential questions’. Laura employs food and the tea-time serving acoutrements of afternoon to provoke philosophical chitter-chatter and subtly subvert the way we react to each other with the past-time of the afternoon tea.

Taking food's potential to challenge perception and educate potentially indescribable concepts is Guerrilla Science’s ‘Brain Banquet’.

A three-day event in a Dalston bunker explored various themes about the brain- neurochemists and psychologists talked with interweaveing courses created by eating designers Blanch & Shock. The most incredible part of this experience was the concept and purpose of the food. 

Working in the kitchen of Headway East London, a special centre helping the recovery of people who have suffered serious brain injury, Blanch & Shock started to get to know the specific ways in which the victims of severe brain injury's senses and perceptions around eating are skewed after trauma to the brain. Once you have suffered a massive injury to your brain, one of the key things that can be affected is a jumbled sense of texture and flavour when you're eating. You may also have a problem translating scale, where your senses may convince you that something is larger than it really is when you're eating it. To convey this to the people who attended Brain Banquet, the eating designers recreated Headway East's most popular canteen lunch- ham, egg and chips but in a way that would be totally unfamiliar and unrecognisable to the people eating it at the event- translating that indescribable feeling that the brain trauma victims had where familiar food became experienced in a strange, bizarre and unfamiliar way.

Textures and flavours were mixed and deliberately confused, the clear broth having the distinct ham flavour, the fried egg being distilled into a 16-hour slow-cooked yolk that floated suspended in the broth, and a giant-sized chip was served to help diners understand how it might feel if your brain can't comprehend the 'normal' size of objects you've once taken foregranted. The work of Blanch & Shock is really moving and shows how powerful food experiences can be in conveying information that isn't purely logical or cognitive but emotional and sensory.



Aiming to serve a familiar dish with atypical textures, in reference to the altered senses that can result from head injury, Blanch & Shock created this dish based on the favourite lunchtime dish served at the Headway East Centre of ham, egg and chips. A rich ham broth was served with a slow-cooked egg yolk accompanied by a huge potato chip.
Food and Community



Community is quite a buzzword at it's dawned on us that social media has taken us away from genuine get-togethers and face-to-face interaction.

Martino Gamper is most well-known as a creative furniture designer, but food has always played a central role in both the way he works with his team and with his audience. Martino sees food as a really important part of the working day and actually cooks lunch every week for everyone in his studio:

"We eat together every lunchtime. It's nice to spend a bit more time with the people you work with, or else you can end up working seven or eight hours straight without saying a word'"³

Taking it up a scale, Martino has created ‘Total Trattorias’ with both  Aram Furniture Store and his contemporary gallerist  Kate MacGarry where he designs a whole evening, furniture, food, tableware, lighting and then cooks a selection of his signature Italian dishes for the evening. This simple celebration of the communal meal as artwork or installation shows an attention to detail about all of the elements that constitute an eating event.

In a similar way, artist David Parker creates work that amplifies the social and communicative benefits of feasting together. In his installation Juicework at the HR gallery in LA, he invited locals to come in and use over 2,000 sculptural ceramics and  tools he made to create a giant juicing party. Set out over a large gallery, a mix of knotty ceramic bowls, funnels and juicing tools brought locals together as they juiced fruits and vegetables grown in the surrounding area. He talked about the ability of his work 'to encourage people to make new acquaintances while they’re doing something as simple as tasting the fruits of their labours in a sensory environment that plays on the fruits of the land, sharing and a sense of giving.'


David Parker's Juiceworks, LA, 2014

Food Future

With new technology and innovation, food is gaining more capabilities, particularly where it augments with technology, be it nanotechnology or 3-d printing.
Kokiri Lab’s proposal Project Nourished, ‘a gastronomical virtual reality experience’ allows diners to believe they’re eating steak and sushi by using Oculus Rift, aromas and food mass made from gum arabic and pectin.
As Kokiri Lab say: “Rather than mirroring the everyday foods that we are used to, you will reconcile your very own gastronomical experience with new “food aesthetics”. Together with chefs, food scientists and artists, we will create an unparalleled dining experience that straddles both the physical and virtual worlds’"


RCA graduate Johanna Schmeer has created prototypes using nanotechnology for synthetic foodstuffs designed to feed the world’s burgeoning population. In Bioplastic Fantastic, lush colours and glorious inners drip and gloop to reveal themselves like exotic fruits, enticing you to eat them.
So, whether you’re walking through a flavour, breathing in a colour or eating something that’s skewing your perceptions, there’s no doubt that food and sensory experiences will be a more considered part of your food entertainment agenda.

The possibilities are endless and the examples above are just a sprinkling of innovative ways in which we literally ingest experience. Watch this space.

"The only thing I like better then talking about food is eating” John Walters.

YourStudio work with artists, chefs, mixologists and create mutli-sensory experiences from brand spaces to fine dining.
If you’d like to work with us, contact us at enquiries@weareyourstudio.com

Howard Sullivan is co-founder and Creative Director of YourStudio, and MA Tutor of Interior Design at the Royal College of Art, London.

I & 2 Sean Rogg interview by Nazlee Sabahipour, Cub Magazine, February 2015
3       An Afternoon with Martino Gamper by Claire Walsh, Sight Unseen, 11.22.11

Tagged:3D Printing, The Waldorf Project, Brain Banquet, Laura Gottlieb, Philosophical Teatime, marije vogelzang, afternoon tea, Blanch and Shock, Total Trattoria, David Parker, Martino Gamper, Kokiri Lab, Johanna Schmeer, Howard Sullivan, sean rogg

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