Final Representation and Reflection

A mock-up of the New York Times website. The links to the Kylie Kim and the Mikah Wong articles work. Please click on the bottom right-hand corner to scroll down each article. Click on the New York Times logo to go back to the home screen.

A mock up of the “Food of the Future” — Sustenance Solution.

Hidden-cam photos of Mikah Wong

Reflection

This is where I started to make connections within all the different microfutures that I was looking at. The underlying value that I was focusing on was about the media’s influence on people’s perception of a ‘perfect lifestyle’ and how this has changed people’s habits and thoughts towards things. I wanted to, through the future I created, show the negative consequences of people being too obsessed with curating their lifestyle so that it looks perfect on social media.

Due to this broad focus, I looked into all the different ways food obsession and lifestyle curation obsession could affect the infrastructure of our lives and also larger industries. I think this was where I got a little lost and confused, because I was looking at so many different possibilities, and did not focus on one particular product, like most people did. I think that if I focused on just one product, and looked at the consequences of that only, I would have reached a more concrete final expression of my future. However, I am glad that I was able to look at it in more of a ‘systems thinking’ mindset, since I was able to explore many different venues of my future, and also build a whole world around my concept.

I think there are a lot of ambiguities in the future I presented, but I think that is also the nature of our current society — how we can’t understand everyone’s perspectives on different issues, and how some things are kept behind closed doors by influential figures/people with power. I think I was a little bit too ambitious with my planning, but this is definitely a topic that I would want to work on more, just to answer my own questions.

As for what I think the role of the designer is in my future — I think designers will be challenged in many different ways:

  • Designing the flow and system within a restaurant which is mostly individual booths with livestream videos
  • Coming up with more innovative ways to stimulate people’s senses while they are eating, so that new restaurants can compete with older ones
  • Designing the packaging of future food products, to make them seem less medical and unfriendly, so that the public is more acceptable of this change
  • Designing different ways food can be innovative: different shapes food 3D printers can make, different materials it can print with, different methods of cooking 3D printed foods, how to make these machines cheap/portable/light/small/sleek
  • Redesigning the purpose of the kitchen
  • The UI/UX of restaurant websites: how do people ‘download’ dishes, how do people pay for it online
  • Thinking about the future of how people can pay for food: with instagram presence (followers, likes?)?
  • Speculating further into the future of where this is leading us: will normal cooked food become obsolete? If so, what are the consequences of that, and what do we need to prepare for when that future comes?
  • Thinking about different ways to spin this ‘convenient downloadable food’/ ‘3D printable food’ technology into ways to create good social impact: will it be easier to distribute the necessary nutrients needed in a day to developing countries?
  • Now that food/eating is more of a career, an independent experience where people are more focused on doing it ‘well’ rather than enjoying the moment for how it makes them feel, designers will be challenged with having to design new infrastructure or systems that enables people to interact and bond to replace the social/people gathering nature of food

There are so many different roles that a designer can take on, since I created a whole society with my future, rather than just a product. Some designers/scientists/engineers that are at the forefront of food science and design are already doing these things right now, but how they market/brand so that it is more socially acceptable and desired is the main question.

This is definitely not a future that I want to be a part of creating, since it brings a lot of stress and sadness into many people’s lives. Also, eating becomes a career and constant competition rather than the usual cultural norm of food being something that brings people together. Something that people of all races, income levels and genders can all understand, agree upon and bond over. Something that is a connotation of ‘family time’. If most people are now eating with a virtual person on a screen, or are too busy worrying about how beautiful their food looks, direct social interaction within people will go away, making all interactions through digital platforms (which is what is already currently happening right now, but with food, people still love to eat with friends and family, and use it as a time to catch up and reflect on their days).

The technology part of the future is interesting though — food can be made into really crazy shapes and patterns, and different things can be adjusted to taste really different from what it is supposed to taste like. But I feel like this also adds another reason for humans to be lazier and just rely on the design of things, if all foods are altered to just give us the perfect amount of nutrients needed. Also, the beauty in the handmade craft of food will also disappear, if everything can be made by machines. And I think that really is what makes food special, and puts love and warmth in the food.

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