Wild & Root

Photo by Lars Hübner

Interview with Linda Lezius

Our Food and Space correspondent, Jashan Sippy of Sugar & SPACE, chatted with Berlin-based Linda Lezius of Wild & Root. Her advice to fellow food designers is “to value our own work, before other people can see its value”.

Can you tell us about your food and design journey? 

After growing up on a farm and being constantly surrounded by fresh products, handcraft and parents that taught me the appreciation of food, I studied Textile and Surface Design at Kunsthochschule Berlin Weißensee. In between I worked in London and New York in Food and Space Design which was the first time where my roots and profession merged. Back in Berlin I was part of a project in the countryside to find a way to showcase the potential of the handcraft and products of the region. We came up with an interactive concept that sparked conversations between the guests and made them discover their products from a new perspective. I was inspired and amazed by the power of food as a medium to communicate and transform a group of strangers into a community within minutes. After experimenting a bit more with supper clubs I decided to create the agencyWild & Root for food communication in the summer of 2015. Since then we have grown into a collective of creative experts from different fields i.e. designer, chefs, farmers, journalists, and photographers.  

"my material became food which I use in exactly the same way"

How would you describe the field of Food and Design? 

For me design is an outstanding way to communicate any type of content, bringing it into a suitable form and making people discover something in a unique way. As a textile and surface designer I used to experiment with different materials, such as wood, ceramic, metal, textiles. Now my material has become food which I use in exactly the same way. Most importantly is that the result raises questions or forwards knowledge to people in order to add value to our lives, rather than creating even more consumer goods.

What went terribly wrong but taught you a lot and what did you learn from it? 

Starting your own business is not always easy, but for sure you learn with time. One of the biggest learning moments I had and still have, is definitely that we have to value our own work, before other people can see its value. In the past I sometimes agreed to compromise on concepts and budgets in order to please clients and make a project work for both sides. But in the end the results are obviously not aligned with my philosophy and the quality of work that I want to create. I learned to be very clear with the values that I can and want to offer. In other words if I sell apples and a client wants pears, I’s rather not work with him/her. This allows me to work within my quality standards and to give appreciation to my own work, as well as to the work of people I collaborate with.

How do you see the future of Food and Design? 

There is a huge potential in the field of Food and Design and we just started to discover it. As design is still associated to be luxury items or classic product design, it is often misunderstood. We should create more awareness towards food used as a tool and its power: It is easily accessible for everybody, we have to deal with it every day, therefore we all have a lot of experiences with it. Food reflects and can translate very aspect of our life and has, at the same time, a beautifully playful and delightful character. It is important to utilize the discipline of Food Design even more in order to influence decisions regarding politics, environment and society. Therefore we need to create more university programs and other educational paths that look at this area. I am sure this is just the start and I am very curious to see this field growing.

Do you think designers working with food need to address politics and social issues and why? 

All of us have to deal with food on a daily basis, and that is why every single person has an immense decision-making power. This applies at least to our lives in industrialized countries, where food and its variety is as accessible as never before, so that we can choose the way we eat. Where, what and how we eat supports a certain industry and is as a consequence always a political statement. At the same time our consumer behavior shapes our society as well as it affects our environment. This is where Food Design can be influential in a positive way. The medium of food allows us to reach people easily without the aspiration to patronize people, but rather using it to include, empower and educate people in order to showcase their power with very purchase they do and bite they eat. On a bigger and long term scale this can also change decisions on a political level and social challenges.

Jashan Sippy, founder of Sugar & Space, interviewed Linda Lezius of Wild & Root.