“The outcome is often quite sensitive, raw and emotional.”
Hannerie Visser grew up on a table grape farm in South Africa. Her mother and grandmother were both domestic science teachers. Today she designs and produces culinary experiences through her Cape Town-based company "Studio H". Hannerie’s driving force is to find solutions to challenges in the food system to ultimately contribute to a better and more sustainable world through food and design. Hannerie's "Studio H" is a culinary-minded design studio that creates experiences through the lens of food. In 2017 Hannerie founded her own food and culture magazine, "Chips!", which launched at the New York Food Book Fair. 2018 saw the launch of Studio H’s Future Food Report, published with samples in book format and accompanied by trend workshops. In the same year Hannerie founded "FOOD XX", a conference, awards and network dedicated to women in the food industry.
As our Food, Culture & Design correspondent, what do you hope to be corresponding on?
I would like to explore eating and food & design in a South African context, where a lot of this is already happening, but on an instinctive rather than organised level. Food and design is not something you can study over here or we have many local examples of, but if you start delving into our rich and diverse local cultures there are incredible examples of traditions, rituals and ways of eating that we can learn from and take forward into new projects.
What about food and design really interests you?
I love the fact that there is this deep, almost quest-like, sense of constantly looking for answers, looking at solutions, creating conversations. The outcome is often quite sensitive, raw and emotional, as eating is such a personal act and ritual, revealing so much about our past and where we come from.
S/Zout Waterless Dinner. With molds by Tour de Fork and photography by Johno Mellish.
Waterless Dinner for Earth Hour
What went wrong but taught you a lot in the realm of food and design?
Food designers aren’t chefs, so we rely on chefs and cooks to produce the food for our experiences. Sometimes it is hard to find the right people who share the deeper meaning of what we do, so you have to make sure that everyone on your team is part of the bigger journey and share your vision, it is a great lesson in effective communication. We are lucky, though, that we work with an amazing team of collaborators.
What position in the food and design field is underexposed?
For it to be applicable in a South African context, it needs to be more practical and less academic. I guess that is the pro of living and operating in a developing economy, most of the time we just do things instinctively, without too much academic underpinning, and I feel then you often get better and more unexpected results, as it comes from the gut, the heart, and is a more authentic result.
“Chips!” online magazine published by Studio H
What misconceptions about food and design would you like to oppose?
Food styling is not food design. Food and design is about a considered approach to finding solutions. It is important that whatever you do as a food and design project adds to a dialogue in food today and that it is meaningful. If there is no purpose, it does not warrant the label food and design.
Do you think designers working with food need to address politics and social issues?
Absolutely. I am fascinated by the cultural aspect of food. Growing up in a country where we have 11 official languages, and with a very painful past, I do believe we can connect different social, economic and culturally diverse groups of South Africans on a very meaningful level through food.
Read more about Hannerie’s work on her Studio H website: www.studio-h.co.za