Co-operation Cuisine: SEAD Interactions in Foodscapes

Coordinator: Alok Nandi

The concept: cuisine and food design as terrain to investigate complex wicked problems.

Conversation. Emergence. Food for thought.

– Cuisine, is French for ‘kitchen’ and first meant that or ‘a culinary establishment’;
– Cuisine, culinary art or the practice or manner of preparing food or the food so prepared;
– Cuisine, kitchen available with varying levels of equipment.
– Food, material that contains or consists of essential body nutrients, and is ingested and assimilated by an organism to produce energy.

Hundreds of years ago, the Hindu scriptures Upanishad were already mentioning ‘You are what you eat’, and more closely in Europe, in 1826, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, in Physiologie du Goût, ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante: ‘Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.’ Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.

If design allows ‘transformation of existing conditions into preferred ones’ (Herbert Simon), ‘cuisine’ is interesting to put next to it, close to it, into it, or vice-versa. Especially as a process but also as a space (and a non-space), it might ensure that thinking and talking about ‘design as cuisine’ or vice-versa results into reframing making and consuming.
Why would Cuisine allow to enhance the design envelope, the design thinking, the design attitude?

From cuisine and design, if we enlarge the view points and look at these dynamics in a transdisciplinary SEAD mode, by inviting scientists, technologists and artists, what exchanges will happen ? Food for thought …

Quite recently, the concept of “co-creation” shows interest in different areas, from innovation studies to information management, from design thinking to policy definition. How is the food sector using it to foster innovative propositions ?
Private corporations are opening up innovation modalities, especially in the R&D phases. A number of companies are also looking to tap into the creative input at the market level. In parallel, public institutions in Denmark, in Finland, … are exploring new collaboration models, empowering and engaging everyday people. Forrester recently claimed: “Co-creation will become a pillar of product innovation by 2015. Although the market remains relatively immature, we have witnessed growing awareness of co-creation from our clients across a wide range of industries, and we continue to see empowered product strategy professionals experimenting with co-creation engagements in interesting ways. Co-creation will continue its upward trajectory in 2012, driven by emboldened vendors that are eager to show product strategists the value and benefits that co-creation can bring to the product development process.”

The food systems have applied different mechanisms, from field to fork, through-out centuries, in resonance with several co-creation approaches and paradigms. However, one might claim the food chains in the 20th century industrialization phases may have wiped out some multi-stakeholders co-creation innovative collaboration by building “Fordian” production chains. Consumers have consumed, under marketing pressures … And then appeared phenomenas such as Slow Food in the Western world !

This whitepaper aims to look at different readings of understanding the food systems, depending if it is an “academic” approach or a “designer” point of view, or an “industrial” implementations, or an “artistic” reading.

Ultimately, the knowledge expansion might emerge out of the SEAD friction. Which dimensions would be appearing ? Which stakeholders ? What levels of operational and co-operational would be possible ?

Input welcome !



Alok b. Nandi, born in Congo and raised in Zaïre, is based in Brussels, where he has studied engineering, management and film (Licence en Philosophie et Lettres). As a designer, media artist and writer-director, he explores conflicting constraints in evolving and hybrid contexts, via his design label Architempo, with a focus on interaction design, exhibition design and food design.
From hi-tech interactive installations (Extrafiction framework) to lo-tech mise-en-scene (i.e. Cannes Film Festival and Jules Verne exhibition design), he is dealing with storytelling in multiple media, place and technologies. Japan Foundation Fellow. He has worked as head of new media in publishing houses (Casterman Tintin, Flammarion). He is also a regular speaker in international conferences in Asia, Europe, US. Invited professor/lecturer. He has launched Pecha Kucha Brussels, Ignite and is local leader of IxDA (interaction design).

From co-design to co-creation, from immersive installations to food systems, from connected story spaces and films to radio chronicles, he is busy with a large palette of narrative modalities. In 2011-12, he has launched coCreationcamp and coCreation cuisine.