Adversity is shit.

by Marije Vogelzang

2020 Review

Our founder Marije Vogelzang summarised this year, looking at the ways in which food and design has adapted. As with every impactful, large-scale change, after the shock come new possibilities for growth and adaptation.

Food and Design in the time of cholera. Cholera? COVID-19 of course.

But sometimes I do think of the novel ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The novel is written in the tradition of magical-realism.

This means that the storyline of a book seems hypothetically realistic and answering to the universal laws of nature but every now and then something peculiar happens. For example, a bag filled with bones, can start to shake. Unexplainably.

No one in the book will be surprised by this. It is part of their natural perception of life. As a reader it is an intriguing experience to witness a shift of your own perception of what is real and what you find normal. What is taken for granted and what is possible.

The peculiar quality of 2020 feels like magical realism in its effect.

Things in 2020 have shifted and normalised while still feeling out of place.
Imagine someone in 2019 telling you about how life works today. You probably wouldn’t have believed it.
Since most of my work is abroad, I saw my planned income for the rest of the year evaporate completely in March.
These are interesting moments.
It means uncertainty

But it also means a clean slate. To reconsider.
To review
To take on new adventures.

Adversity is shit.

It is!

It is manure.

You can contempt the stink but you can also use it as fertiliser to feed your soil and grow strong crops on.

Adversity is something that can happen. Something that stands in the way of the path you were taking. It is uncomfortable as it forces you to go outside your regular orbit.

It’s annoying It’s confronting It can hurt.

All these emotions are extremely valuable as they can be alchemised into incredible energy once you dare to look at them.

Adversity is like the rain.

– You can get angry or annoyed for getting wet
– You can wear a raincoat to protect yourself and pretend it’s not there
– You can use the rain to collect water or create energy

Adversity creates a new play field.

And new rules.

It doesn’t change anything about your creative ability. It just changed the scenery.
Like immigrating to a new country where you do not fully understand the language and the customs. It makes you slower to adapt than in your home country.

Right now we are all immigrants so in that sense we are on the same level. Exploring a new country is exciting, scary and many times tiring as well. But we always learn

Even if we return to our home country we take our experience with us and feel more rich, more capable and with more confidence.

It is uncomfortable.
As you might feel shaken off from where you were heading to.

But if you see it as exploration of new terrain.
And if you understand that when something takes energy it also has the potential to give you energy. You are not a battery that can run out. Your energy is a renewable source.

You just need to take some distance to step back and reflect. To look at the landscape to see what is in front of you.

Without judgement. Without opinion.

Just see and be curious
Find your natural curiosity as that is most probably the reason why you started working as a creative in the first place.

Know that we always need food.
And that our senses are in us. We might have to go online. We might have to keep a distance.

But whenever we eat we are experiencing food with our own senses. There is no way we can use any body else’s senses.

It is us and it is within is.

As designers working with food we might not be able to handle large groups but we can create for one person. And if we do that for one we can also create for a 1000.

It just requires a different mindset.

Humans will always need food .
Humans will always have their senses to experience. Humans will always have their imagination.

No matter which country you are in and if you are a stranger. We all carry these 3 superpowers with us.

Let’s see what we’ll discover!


by Marije Vogelzang, Founder and Creative Director of The DIFD 


Read our correspondent responses to the Opportunities in Adversity in 2020 here.