This week I attended a fascinating dinner party hosted by Zoe Melo and Peter Scherrer at Touch, their Culver City eco-design gallery. Design phenom Ivy Chuang of Knoend was the guest of honor, holding court over eleven other people from all walks of design (and in some cases, design appreciation). Over wine and an outstanding organic dinner catered by pop-up chef David Wolfe, we engaged in a great conversation on culture and design and the role of sustainability in a “post-globalized” world.
Ivy pointed at the humorous but somewhat scary hot fast food dispensers in Japan that serve out hot dogs, fries, and other freeze-dried, instant heated snack foods as an example of how we, consumers, have gotten used to consuming what we want when we want it with little regard for the consequences. The designers who made the fast food machine didn’t think about the preservatives that would be necessary to keep the food frozen till perpetuity; or how that might affect the local restaurants around the train station that might be put out of business; or what kind of dietary effect these foods might have on the kids who eat instant food everyday. While the fast food machine is not intrinsically evil, the problem is that this careless cycle has been perpetuated on every level of design and production around the world. That’s the globalized world for you. But the question is, what now?
Luckily, the post- period of any particular time in history is naturally a backlash or reaction to the chapter that preceded it. And at our table decidedly “post” table, I think the tone was generally hopeful. But maybe that’s because we served ourselves dinner from Knoend’s groovy intersection table, which is an experiment in bringing together innovative food, mindfulness of the body and eating sensations, community and interchange between designers, all in a sustainably designed environment. While we didn’t come away from dinner with any steadfast answers on how to change the world, stimulating and human interaction is exactly what is needed to keep us all honest, aware, and accountable – no matter what it is that we do for a living.
I think Knoend should send the intersection to Washington.