Felicia Semiawan Victoria Milley Jessye Grundlingh (by Martin Iskander)
“Design can change the world, if design helps people change,” says Jessye Grundlingh. That’s the philosophy Grundlingh — a Toronto-based, Cape Town-born product designer and cofounder of Area 91 — brought to her fourth-year thesis project in OCAD University’s Industrial Design program.
Recently, InStudio met with Grundlingh and two other Industrial Design graduates: Felicia Semiawan and Victoria Milley. All three devoted their thesis projects to reimagining — and then redesigning — the ways people interact with food.
Alō’s four main components: a base of ash wood, leather lunchbox carry-case, three prep bowls and an app (by Jessye Grundlingh)
Alō: a sustainable eating toolkit
We recorded two short videos with Grundlingh, in which she discusses:
In his book Design Thinking in Making, OCAD U professor Job Rutgers notes, “good designers are true scavengers of experience: they observe how the world works around them because it is up to them to create things to make this world function” (119). As Grundlingh looked around at her world, she was struck by “a big issue: the food crisis. By 2050, there will not be enough food to feed the planet if we keep eating the way we do now — meatcentrically, with waste to spare.”
Working within the broad domain of “sustainability,” Grundlingh devoted much of her thesis year to developing a product that would both encourage a shift to consuming plant-based protein and help to reimagine household food waste.
Alō’s app: for tracking daily nutritional servings (by Jessye Grundlingh)
Alō’s leather case: for nomadic dining (by Jessye Grundlingh)
At the end of a lengthy process involving multiple steps — including theorization, stakeholder and market analysis, brand development and costing — Grundlingh arrived at a “sustainable eating toolkit” she calls Alō. Made of wood (ash), ceramic and leather (and supported by a digital recipe app), Alō is a “nomadic” set that enables one to measure, prepare, store and carry plant-based, protein-rich meals without relying on plastic containers. Grundlingh’s work on Alō garnered her a 2016 OCAD U medal.
Kompakt: tools for food storage and composting
Kompakt is a set of tools that enables us to strengthen our relationship and experience with food. (by Victoria Milley and Felicia Semiawan)
Taking a related path, fellow 2016 Industrial Design graduates Semiawan and Milley spent their fourth year in the program pondering food-related sustainability. In their case, the focus was primarily on how food is stored and then how we dispose of food waste.
Documenting “relationships” (their own and others’) with food, Semiawan and Milley realized that food storage and disposal were especially challenging for people who live in small spaces (e.g., Toronto’s teeming population of tiny condo-dwellers).
We recorded two videos with Semiawan and Milley, in which they discuss:
One of the most unique insights arising from their research concerned the “ritual” component of people’s food relationships. Essentially, this boils down to a lack of “consciousness” concerning our relationships with food. Drawing inspiration from the “ritual culture” embedded in Japanese tea ceremonies and North American coffee culture, Semiawan and Milley sought “to transform everyday actions into something with great meaning, thereby increasing the value of the food being stored, prepared and disposed of.”
The end result of their intense year of design thinking is kompakt — a modular, adaptable series of fruit-and-vegetable storage and composting containers (stoneware and glass) that fit into a sleek maple cart. In honour of their hard work and ingenuity, Semiawan received the Eugene Yao Award, while Milley was presented with the Tucker Award.
Kitchen cart top functions as both cutting board and lid to in-cart compost collector (by Victoria Milley and Felicia Semiawan)
Herb keeper made of hand-thrown stoneware ceramic, glass and cork used for storing herbs (by Victoria Milley and Felicia Semiawan)
Job Rutgers, Design Thinking in Making: Industrial Design at OCAD University. Toronto: OCAD University, 2015. (For a quick video glimpse, check out the accompanying Design Thinking in Making video.)