Experience and memory, as discussed in class, is central to food and dining. Whenever my family has come to Melbourne through the years (before I moved here), we always stayed in the same Carlton apartments, and always went to Tiamo Restaurant (tiamo meaning ’I love you’, in Italian). It’s full of old maps and signs (even an old Spencer St Station sign!), posters and notes, and (strangely) a serviette, covered in mathematical formulas, taped to the wall with blue band aids. This morning, I spoke to the owner about the signs up everywhere, discovering that most had come from his grandfather’s collection, and others were bought from a trader in Melbourne.
The waiters speak with strong accents and often get your order wrong. The kitchen is noisy and one waiter in particular walks around whistling songs I don’t recognise. The food is full of flavour and spice and personality. I adore this place. It’s so memorable and warm and satisfying. I hope to keep coming here with my family, over the years.
It occurred to me today (while I was taking the tram back from our Soup-er gathering) that my group’s proposal for our planned event could very well be based around this question.
Of course, it has obvious practical implications around consuming food, but has far more meaning when one considers the meaning behind gathering for a meal. Like Andy was saying today, ‘it’s about socialising’. Meals have significance that extends further than food itself- family, for one. Food is a catalyst for conversation, for understanding, for interaction and marking an event in time. The model of event that my group has proposed is based around the idea of sharing culture; what better way to eclipse such an experience than asking, ‘what do you consume?’. What food do we consume? What emotions and memories do we consume? What do we thrive on, when we gather for meals?
Christmas, for example, is more a time of mourning than celebration for my family; meals eaten on Christmas, for us, are momentous and highly significant. We gather in a rotunda, roast a turkey, drink wine, play the Best Hits of Paul Kelly… It isn’t a ‘happy’ time, per se, but it is important for us all to be together.
It’s memories like that which attach themselves to food, to meals, to recipes. It’s memories like that which should be shared. We, as people, have consumed so much, and our unique experiences have shaped us.
So, I suppose, the question might instead be, ‘what consumes us?’.
In the 46th edition of Eye magazine, Rick Poynor references the words of Robyn McDonalds
and Jason Grant, the directors of Inkahoots- ‘We work mainly in the community and cultural sectors, not just because that’s where the best work is, but because we figure our environment is already cluttered with sophisticated corporate imagery that often doesn’t represent the community’s best interests*.’
Inkahoots, a magazine and website that displays both alternative design and social
commentary, has brought forth a question to my mind; to what extent is design being used
to create, or emphasize, a false world? It is widely believed by many that culture and
tradition and individuality are often buried or misrepresented through the smooth and
flawless worlds of fashion, advertising, and other mediums. On Inkahoots’ website, you can
read the words of Jason Grant, in discussion of social activist Naomi Klein; ‘Contemporary visual language is often a one-
way monologue of corporate branding, when it could be a real social dialogue of meaningful
human communication. The point of all this is that right now, it’s time to choose’*.
My initial question, then, must lead onto another; is such a situation really a bad thing? Grant says that we must
choose, and obviously means to suggest we should rebel against the corporate design- but
what would be left? As designers, we have a concern for meaning, but also for progress, and
what is meaning without progress? Would it not be better to understand the beast (provided you view it as such) that is
corporate design? Grant and Klein seem to want us to run from corporate design, rather than change
it, rather than become a part of it and transform that world. Is it not the duty of designers to
extend their reach as far as possible?