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Speculating the Future of Food

In a recent Monocle Minute newsletter, they featured California-based chef James Corwell who has created Ahimi, a tuna alternative made from tomato, soy sauce, sugar, water and sesame oil. This is coming after the stark realization that within the next 30 years, because of overfishing there may no longer be any fish in the sea. Which means we have to look for some seafood surrogates and realities about our precious ecosystem.

This isn’t the first time, alternatives to food have been on the radar, especially for designers. Presented in a lecture entitled Speculative Everything Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby use Speculative and Critical Design as a launchpad for our discussion.

Speculative Design…

Creates not only things, but ideas
Is a forward-thinking process
Has a message that is as important as the product itself

In 2006, James King’s project entitled Dressing the meat of tomorrow was presented that looked at the recent advances in tissue engineering which have enabled us to grow meat without the expense, cruelty and traditions of rearing the whole animal. 

In vitro meat, may not sound edible but it’s the use of design that can turn this very scientific and biological product into something that is palatable and possibly irresistible.

Imagine an enterprising and creative chef of tomorrow who is bored of serving up formless, tasteless meat and wants to differentiate his cuisine. Imagine being able to create new forms, textures, colours to serve up a meal and a designed piece of art that people are willing to pay for…that is technically “meat”.

Of course, it creates a larger discourse and the following design considerations that begin to push the boundaries of design and the future of food:


How will your users interact with the product?
What does it mean to release it to the Open Source / DIY community?


How will your project be realized? Crowdfunding? Partnerships? Expertise?


What story will you tell people to justify this product?
How will you describe the consequences or practical and social benefits?


What is the intention behind the product?


What set of values is the product promoting or demoting?


What are the consequences of this product’s existence?
What are the ethical implications?
What does it mean to introduce a genetically modified organism into nature?

What this ultimately does is “open up all sorts of possibilities that can be discussed, debated, and used to collectively define a preferable future for a given group of people…” – – Speculative Everything



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