Meet Yunwen "Tutu" Tu: our US West Coast correspondent

Project: In the Balance; Photographer: John Wegner

“How will future technology and food culture change the way we eat?”

Yunwen “Tutu” Tu is a food designer and curator, who seeks ways to push boundaries through her work. Such as envisioning how the food of the global diaspora will be impacted by environmental, socioeconomic, political, and technological trends. Tutu's work has been featured in food design exhibitions at the ACM Future of Computing Academy, Asian Art Museum, Foodinno Symposium, California Academy of Sciences and Chinese Culture Center. As our correspondent she will be reporting on recent developments in food and design along the US West Coast.

What is it about food and design that excites you?

There are three main aspects that I find fascinating about food and design: the food culture and history, the materiality of edible ingredients and the potential of future interaction with food.

Food culture and its history particularly show how food has influenced human evolution and how humans in turn have redefined food over time. Food and eating are both powerful mediums of messages and cultures. I am interested in the storytelling of food culture, as food itself is also rich in stories. For example, I collaborated with a local edible insect business for a pop-up dinner, Past Futures. The purpose was to suggest an alternative future protein through a delicious dining experience. I also created an interactive installation, In the Balance, to engage the public to learn about the carbon emission of food.

As for the materiality of edible ingredients, I am interested in discovering the aesthetics of food as a physical design material – designed either as food or non-edible objects. Most of the products surrounding us are made of durable industrial materials. I believe we haven’t fully explored the edible ingredients as the natural and compostable materials for design. Such as the corn husk furniture designed by Fernando Laposse.

Lastly, I believe that the future of food interaction evolves around designing a better eating experience. How will the future technology and food culture change the way we eat? I’ve been looking into collaborating with chefs or event spaces to do some experiments in this area. To extend the design possibility, I also designed futuristic form of food for my project, Protein Fantasy, which was based on the human-food interaction.

Project: Protein Fantasy. Photo: Yunwen “Tutu” Tu, 2017

Sweet Space - Future Food Lab @ Design Lab NightLife, California Academy of Science, 2017

What part of food and design is still underexposed?

Food education. It has been overlooked in so many countries. How should we protect younger generations from the masses of industrial food production? Many food businesses are driven by the consumers’ needs. The future environment and eating culture will be shaped by our tastes and demands but many people, including kids, are disconnected from food and agriculture. If we can integrate a fun experiential food class into more school curriculums, it would definitely help to build a better food future. I think design offers a perfect approach to create the educational experience for kids and even adults. We need a more collaborative environment and platforms for designers to work with chefs, scientists, educators, artists and etc. This will make food design more diverse and more well-known in other fields.

How do you see the future of food and design?

There will be food design will evolve alongside new technologies and innovations. The future of food design is also about how we use new technologies and new approaches to relearn the materiality and culture of food, and then use design to repurpose them. I also believe that the different ways we share knowledge and shape the environment of education, will have an important influence on the future of food and design. The future is essentially reflecting the new problems we will have about cultures, identities, environment, entertainment and etc. It’s really about how we define the future challenges.



Read more about Tutu on her:


Instagram: @tutu.fooddesign

LinkedIn: Yunwen Tu (Tutu)