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Design in the food industry: culture, products, communication
AIS / Design. Storia e ricerche
Expo 2015 special issue edited by Rosa Chiesa, Ali Filippini, Gianluca Grigatti
The relationship between design and food is one of the most topical issues in the design community today. There is increasing debate about “food design” in particular, a category the boundaries of which remain blurred and the definition a matter of discussion. The current interest expressed by specialists and the wider public in food/design and the food supply chain has grown out of a rising mass attention to food (the popularity of television formats focused on cooking, the slow-food culture, the proliferation of publications and exhibitions dedicated to this theme, spurred by the direct relationship to the theme of Expo 2015).
From a historical perspective, however, investigation into the theme has been rather sporadic and uneven, addressing design issues relative to patents, to more specifically functional aspects and to product configuration, to communication and consumption, to social and anthropological questions. Food, on the contrary, which is included in the history of the material culture and, since the beginning of industrial food production, to the history of manufacturing, rightly stakes its claim as a significant theme in the history of design. We therefore believe it is important to highlight research studies within the field of design history that focus on issues involving the relationship between food and design, food and production, food and distribution, in a perspective that emphasizes:
• the evolution of the link between the industrial and the food culture: the relationship between machine/raw ingredients; the technology of the food production and transformation systems; the idea of the artificial (color, texture, form) and the manipulation of food, the study of specific packing materials;
• the design of communication for food: the development of packaging and graphic design projects as a response to the requirements of distribution;
• the theme of food distribution in relation to the places where it is presented, sold and consumed, considering the value of collective imagery in the matter of food as it relates to the traditional venues for collective food services (from cafeterias to service design), to the new modern and post-modern modalities (from the supermarket to vending machines, to eating out), and the relative instruments.
The methodological approach seeks to bring together the perspective typical respectively of the design historian and the historian of manufacturing, without neglecting the contribution of other, only apparently distant disciplines, such as nutritional science. In particular, the articles should contemplate the historical moment of transition from the artisanal culture of food production, to the culture of industrial food production and packaging, addressing the specific issues involved in the diffusion, distribution and consumption of industrial food. Without automatically excluding other contributions, preference will be given to research on twentieth-century Italian case studies.