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Food Design: A New Eating Aesthetic

Design is not just furniture and objects of art, but also web pages, infrastructure, our bodies, and, now, even food.

It's all about the presentation! A dish from the 2007 Food Network Awards Party
It's all about the presentation! A dish from the 2007 Food Network Awards Party
Marco Belpoliti

Paola Antonelli sees a big future for design. "In the coming decades, design will become methodology and philosophy for those politicians, scientists and economists who want to adopt a human, holistic and constructive approach," writes the senior curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

One new place to look for this trend in our daily life is "food design." The visual presentation of food is changing. Now, food has a post-artificial shape. In the book "Food Mood," published by Electa, the authors Stefano Maffei and Barbara Parini give all the details of food's transformation. References abound to: Foodpeople, Foodexperience, and Foodproducts.

According to Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," once the verbs related to food were cultivating, gathering, hunting, fishing, preserving, transforming, re-using the waste. Now, the verbs related to food are buying, preserving, eating.

Piero Camporesi has written about the pre-industrial and rural world, how Italian eating cycles and tradition changed abruptly in the 1950s, as industrialization triggered the globalization of the food chain.

Society, culture, economics, production and sexuality have changed along with food. Technology had an impact on the color, smell, consistency and finally shape of food. The aestheticization of other human activities had an impact on food too. Since the 1990s, art has become part of "food design." Chefs became designers of the eating experience. The leading food designer is the Catalan chef Ferran Adrià, owner of the Michelin 3-star restaurant, El Bulli, in Costa Brava.

"Cooking is a language through which all the following properties may be expressed: harmony, creativity, happiness, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humor, provocation and culture," Adrià writes in his decalogue "Synthesis of El Bulli cuisine." "The barriers between the sweet and savoury world are being broken down. Importance is being given to a new cold cuisine, particularly in the creation of the frozen savoury world," reads the most famous sentence of the decalogue.

Many other food designers have followed Adrià"s path. "Food Mood" reviews the work of Massimiliano Alajmo, Juan Mari Arzak, Alex Atala, Dan Barber, Heston Blumenthal, Massimo Bottura, and Carlo Cracco, among others.

These experimenters of food experience have overcome the link between eating and cooking, and have created a post-industrial cuisine. The chef Alajmo has created a series of "eatable perfumes' with the perfumer Lorenzo Dante Ferro. They extracted from the kitchen the smells of the ingredients and captured them in bottles of perfume. The essences can be sprayed on food to give them a special smell.

The trend is a new multi sensorial experience. In his restaurant, Arzak, in San Sebastian, the Basque chef Juan Mari Arzak has opened a Flavor Bank that contains more than 1,000 products and ingredients used for food investigations and new creations. These chefs are revolutionizing the rules of food as the Italian Alchimia group did in the 1970s for the design of objects.

Adrià has opened the school and gastronomic research center Fundacion Alicia. He's working with the scientist Pere Castells to create a new scientific and gastronomic vocabulary. Natural and artificial blend together, and food becomes an object.

Food design is also changing restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and packaging. According to Maffei and Parini, the new trend will move soon from the haute cuisine to the food distribution, production, culture and socialization connected with food.

Read the original article in Italian

Photo- Alex De Carvalho

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Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGO — TikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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