Food fight: Frank Tjepkema

Product designer Frank Tjepkema believes that as a consumer, you are responsible for the way the food you eat is produced.

From the Series

Frank Tjepkema is a Dutch product designer who does a lot of work on restaurant interiors. In 2009, however, he conceptualised Oogst – three self-sufficient farming systems for different sized communities. He presented it as part of the Design Indaba Protofarm 2050 project.

Can you design food culture?

Yes you can, Ferran Adrià and McDonald’s have both influenced food culture by design. I’m taking two extremes because you have to include every manifestation of food culture in the discussion. Companies such as McDonald’s should be part of your scope, even if we consider that McDonald’s represents the enemy of “good” culture.

Will the city kids’ idea of milk coming from factories come true one day?

It’s very possible, but it’s not bad news per say. Synthesising food may offer a lot of benefits for both humans and animals. It’s too easy to dismiss it as inhuman. Either we limit world population by birth control (also controversial) or we rethink our food resources. Yes there should always be natural milk available, and kids should know where natural milk comes from... But does 100% of our milk need to be natural? Why?

Can eating design go beyond the restaurant?

Everything is connected in the food chain. I believe that as a consumer, you are responsible for the way the food you eat is produced. The simple act of consuming is never innocent. I also acknowledge that it’s very hard to feel connected to this responsibility, it’s so easy to just consume blindly and in a sense we are blind. Blinded by commercials, brands, globalisation etc. More transparency and connection will help us feel more responsible. Here food design can definitely help!

Watch Frank Tjepkema talk about his work.

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