Food, Glorious Food: The State of Now and a Vision for the Future

By Mariel Strauch and Mariela Alvarez, ICRAVE

Food is a productive, complex industry; an ever-evolving testing ground for new ideas everybody can relate to (re: we need to eat and do it at least three times a day). After attending Bitten, a food conference aiming to shed light on the industry’s latest trends and innovations, we began to examine how these disruptors could transform the physical environments for which we design.

The Ecosystem from Grove Labs

Let’s establish the trends defining “The State of Now”:

1. Our food production system is broken! The numbers prove it and there is a movement looking to fix it. Meat is no longer the expected hero, as vegetables are rising to the occasion.

2. Futuristic food is here and now (sorta freaky, kinda fun). My own ecosystem? Yes, please! Beef without cows? We’re working on warming up to that.

3. In with the old, out with the new. Did you read that twice? Yes, we really did mean that. From a century-old business giving entrepreneurial lessons to chefs investigating indigenous village cooking techniques, to the resurgence of the food hall format that was first popular in Ancient Greece, its clear food stories come from a place of truly personal authenticity.

4. We can’t eat it fast enough (pun intended). Restaurants are re-plating food to create instagrammable moments in the hopes of going viral. Food is sexy, restaurants are fun, you are either in or out, so snapchat it all!

5. The joys of cooking are a box away. There’s a subscription for nearly everything. The food industry in particular has many bases covered. Wine? Check. Coffee? Check. Family-style meals for a family of four who can’t find time to shop between walking the dog and soccer practice? Check. Kits promise variety, ease, and education — a huge value that has built a billion-dollar industry.

Because we firmly believe it is our duty to constantly look forward, we’ve created an idealized vision for the future of food through three distinct spaces: the home, the restaurant, and the market.

By analyzing these sectors — ranging from the most intimate to the most public — we look at how the work being done today could transform how we experience food in the future.

The Home: Your Kitchen, Your Garden

Within the past century, home kitchens have essentially remained the same. With the increasing popularity of subscription services and home delivery, the kitchen is becoming more obsolete. Nevertheless, a few companies are re-designing the kitchen as a productive space within the home; one in which you could not only manage waste and water, but also bring in nature by growing your own produce, crickets, and worms. Our kitchens will become the labs we trust with growing our food. They will become a source of entertainment and nourishment.

The Lepsis Terrarium from Mansour Ourasanah & Kitchen Aid
Katharina Unger’s LIVIN Farm Hive

The Restaurant: The New Cooking School

We envision the future of dining as an active interaction with food preparation. Beyond looking across an open kitchen and into a burning hearth, we believe restaurants will become schools. Through hands-on lessons, you will learn how to grow, source, prepare, cook, and eat food. The experience of going out will be collaborative and personal. There would be no distinction between back of house and front of house.

Your experience when dining out will start with donning an apron, diving into the freshly foraged ingredients, cooking side-by-side with the head chef, then sharing it live for your network to gawk at.

The Market: Hyper Local— Supermarkets of the Future are Green

Technology is giving indoor farming an upgrade! With the capacity to stack plants up to twenty feet high, hydroponics are becoming the most viable solution to feed our growing population while also narrowing the gap between food production and consumption.

ICRAVE participated in a competition recently which explored the potential of bringing urban farms into food halls through lush vertical farms. Our winning proposal envisioned a future for food retail an engaging destination where food is grown, harvested, and prepared directly on premise. Our strategy aimed to educate and engage through direct access to the environmentally conscious production of food.

ICRAVE proposal for the Food Hall of 2025

Our Takeaway

Technology is revolutionizing how we interact with food. It is up to us to transform the spaces in which we grow it, cook it, and consume food into agents of environmental, social, and cultural change. It is the only way to create previously unimaginable experiences into our new realities.

Mariel Strauch: Strategy, and Mariela Alvarez: Design at ICRAVE
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