I am sure that most of us often stop searching for more ideas once we discovered a good idea. Many times we think we are the genius and had the best idea ever. Actually, we gave up on ourselves too easily. In fact, we got tired from all that brain-cracking for that great idea. So, how can we churn out ideas that we never imagine coming out ourselves? Novelty is something we all constantly desperate for. What I am about to share is my process of generating unexpected ideas. On (Side A) we were looking pragmatically at pre-conceptual matters, functions and problems. Breaking away from that, we began with mind map then dove further into the branches. Pippi and I decided to look into the emotional expression, psychological interaction with food and the culture of eating, specifically culture of eating now – Food Porn.
Needless to say, food porn is glamourising and glorifying food in a desirable visual presentation. Not intending to offend anyone, it is however safe to say people who embraces food pornography, takes pride in food up to the degree of self-gratification and enjoys the pleasure in beautifying food. This is where we had our epiphany to explore the taboo subject of sex with daily objects. In Speculative Everything, Dunne and Raby suggested instead of looking at the end product, start with laws, ethics, political systems, social beliefs, values, fears, and hopes, and how these can be translated into material expression, embodied in material culture, becoming little bits of another world that function as synecdoche.(1)
We asked if we could materialise the emotional interaction with food and the notion of sex fetishes. We think that it is better to engage people by emotion, and take an empathetic and narrative approach to interrelationships between fiction and function. In most cases, we think with our emotions therefore we consume them as well. Giving personalities to products is like taking a step closer to the end users whose personalities can relate to, as though the product is customized to that individual. When interact, users become the supporting character who drive the storytelling with the protagonist (the embodied pleasure). Product Personality Assignment developed by Philips Design is an approach where a product seen as having their own personality is also being perceived as an experiential property of a product. (2)
Let me introduce you the 5 members of – The Food Porn Project!
The Voyeur is where narcissism meets voyeurism of a peeping tom. We love beautiful food. We also love to spy or stalk on beautiful people. The initial plan was having peepholes of the same size in a diffused gradient towards the bottom of the box. (as shown in the preliminary sketch) Pippi then suggested to introduce patterns that assimilate blinds, partition or traditional oriental perforations. The final design echoes the balance of traditional and contemporary. In addition, it is produced by laser-cutting for its delicate accuracy, then hand-sanded and hand-stained.
The Creep is where innocence of a virgin meets the disguise of a foreplay. Sometimes we are shy to show others who we really are. We secretly want to be somebody else. At first, we wanted to make this furry ball out of silicone. The hassle of making a mold, laying silicone over and pull each fur out with toothpick is just time-consuming. We decided to make shift from a puffy ball and Pippi providentially has a small food container which is almost the same size of the ball and what we are designing.
The Guardian is where erotism of bondage meets the protection of a chastity belt. We often times have someone around us who steals a few bites out of our food. (Especially after you cook and before you serve) The food shall be protected. The thief shall be caught. We started bending wires for the frames of the cage, then tried covering the wires with latex and electrical tapes. After a few experimentation, Pippi proposed to go with black card paper as frames and latex strips overlaid for the possibilty of a neater look.
The Blind is where blindfolding meets the sensual experince of groping. We feel excited when others are in our guessing game. We ocassionally like to be naughty and play with our food, yet wanting to keep our hands clean. I am blessed to have Pippi with me as she has all these know-how in craftsmaking. Taking reference of a seal bag, she brilliantly handled the latex sheet and produced a bag out of it. There is this interesting part when she used washi tape (decorative sticky paper) to align and temporarily hold down the seal grip, I asked her to keep the tape there. The accidental design will be a visual surprise to find on the inner side of the bag.
The Test is where desire battles with temptation. We love to tease as much as to be teased. We prefer short-termed relationship. This product exhibits the value of sustainability in packaging today. Guided by perforations, the packaging has to be stripped with your mouth. It melts away as it contacted with the saliva. Drawing the delusion of a three course meal, the sweet food wrapper serves as the starter and maybe the dessert too. If you cannot resist the temptation, you will ended up having to eat the whole content inside the wrapper. The amout of food you want to keep depends on how well your self control is. The initial design employed tabs design and a ‘tunnel’ form. Due to the poor malleability of the rice paper, we adopted self-supporting enclosure for the final product.
For our presentation, we decided to put our peers and tutor in the dichotomy between retail and gallery. We started with a film before encouraging them to interact with the prototypes. We had designed the products from our personal feelings. Now, we stood back and observed their interaction and responses. To my surprise, the feedback was incredibly positive. They actually picked one out as their favourite, subconsciously related themselves with it, adding that they would love to get it for themselves.
With passion in filmmaking, I am instantly hooked on the storytelling approach in product design. Reflecting on my personal practice, I would love to carry my methodology of marrying man and bot in speculative commercial products. I like to simultaneously allowing myself opportunity for material experimentation and digital craft. On the side, humanizing technology to creating future nostalgia is something I will be keeping an eye on.
1. Dunne, A., Raby, F. (2013). Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction and Social Dreaming. USA: The MIT Press.
2. Jordan, P.W. (1997). ‘Products as Personalities’, in P.W. Jordan. (2000). ‘Designing Pleasurable Products’. London: Taylor & Francis.