Using food as a design material: eating data.

"Dialogue Dinner" Photo by Gilbert Wigankow

Using food as a design material: eating data.

Studio Inés Lauber is an conceptual food and design studio based in Berlin since 2012. The studio raises awareness on the subjects of sustainability, seasonality, locality and maintaining biodiversity through storytelling and conceptual design. Inés Lauber mainly works with local and sustainable produce and collaborates with projects and small businesses that have social and environmental sustainability high on their agenda. Experimenting with foraged ingredients and traditional preserving methods, researching on healing aspects and cultural values of food, the studio blurs the boundaries between forgotten and modern, traditional and new, offering food concepts to not only feed your body, but also your mind.

One of these concepts was “Data Bites”. Data Bites is a fingerfood concept based on data sets developed for the reception party of Information+ Conference 2018 (Potsdam, Germany) an international conference on the visualization of data and information design. To fit the conference theme, Data Bites consisted of five different edible data sets either based on information drawn from the Information+ audience, the region of Berlin-Brandenburg or sustainability related topics.  

By eating the Data Bites, the audience was informed about relatable topics in a multi-sensory experience, in a different way than they are used to. It emphasized the way food can cross the boundaries that linguistic and visual language can’t on their own. By our culture, memories or emotions, everyone can understand and relate to the language of food in one way or another.

"Data Bites" photos by Constanze Flamme

Food is one of the best tools to trigger communication; we perceive a taste, a smell, a texture, have an opinion about it, and through experiencing it together we create a sense of community. Another food concept designed for the Information+ Conference, the Dialogue Dinner, played with this idea and combined it with the design topics that were presented at the conference. People moved around the building to different colour-themed stations that were connected to questions and discussions. Food was not only used as a tool to taste or smell, but it also visualized data, showed people’s answers and perspectives and connected people with shapes, colours and statements.

These food concepts can serve as examples, how design can boost the message that food carries and how food can serve as a tool and design material. Eating together is already a great way to spark conversations, by conceptualizing the dishes as a multi-sensory experience, Studio Inés Lauber gave the audience more information through presentation, taste, smell and texture, substantiated by the existing data the food represented.


Text by Feline Wigman for our Germany correspondent Studio Inés Lauber.