How do you see yourself as a designer working in food?
In my past experiences, I have learned that I enjoy setting up on-site observation and trying to extract simplicity in my designs to reach the general public in a straightforward way.
Through this, I discovered myself as a translator in the complex food system, aiming to reveal hidden and unreachable information to the general public with my designs.
I am not merely a food designer who makes new, tasty, pretty food, nor a nutritionist who educates people on what to eat to nourish their body, nor an environmentalist who tells people how to make a conscious choice to protect our planet. I envision myself building our understanding of the world around food production.
You won both the jury prize and the public prize for the Future Food Design Awards. Why do you think the jury and the public responded so well to your project?
In the project 0.9 Grams of Brass, I was striving for simplicity in my storytelling, with the aim of reaching the broadest audience possible. I created the simple act of purchasing a five-cent paperclip, which everyone is familiar with, but there is a secret hidden behind this action.
As for the jury, I’d like to point to what Clemens Driessen said in representation of the jury, which is that the paperclip seems ambiguous on whether it aims to critique or ritualise and remember the taking of the life of a cow.
What’s the plan for your next steps?
The knowledge that I gained in past projects regarding animal husbandry is just the tip of the iceberg. I am very eager to learn more and continue indulging myself in the vast food system and develop my methodology further.
Winning this Future Food Design Award enables me to carry my vision to go a bit further. With the prize money that I received, I am planning to visit a Halal poultry slaughterhouse in Singapore to kick off my research about chicken, another massively consumed livestock in modern society.
Furthermore, I think it’s essential for me to get inspired and learn from other people. The greatness of a project depends on collaboration. Recently I started a new project with Kuang-Yi Ku, who was also nominated for the Future Food Design Award. The project is inspired by an ancient Chinese feast called Manchu Han Imperial Feast. The idea behind this project is to revalue Chinese eating heritage and protect endangered species, by re-designing a series of cuisines as a new imperial feast. By combining design practice, animal husbandry, and emerging biotechnologies all together, the “New Ultimate Imperial Feast” proposes a unique dining experience for raising awareness of species preservation and animal ethics.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
With my great fascination with cow husbandry in my previous project some of my friends gave me the nickname: ‘Cowgirl’. If my nickname represents topics of fascination, then I wish to be called pig girl, sheep girl, fish girl, vegetable girl, or a food visionary. I want to apply this methodology to another complex system in society.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” That question made me come to realise my vision to create a better understanding of the world around food, but also those living things that we consume.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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