Ninety Minutes of Frame: Chloé Rutzerveld

Following her Claim to Frame at Ninety Minutes of Frame: Future Proof, Chloé Rutzerveld shares a bit more about her leap from studying industrial design at Eindhoven University of Technology into her current trajectory as a food and concept designer and her latest project Edible Growth:

What led you to transition from the field of industrial design to food design?
Chloé Rutzerveld: The educational system of Industrial Design at the Eindhoven University of Technology is very open and supports what they call 'Self Directed and Continuous learning' which means that you can basically choose your own learning path based on personal interests and skills.

When I started at the TU/e I really sucked at being an ‘Industrial Designer’. I did not get the hang of the educational system and could not get along with the coaches. I had absolutely no graphical skills or good taste of colour combinations and shape, I was terrible with electronics and absolutely refused to ‘design’ lamps, furniture or apps. Actually, the entire first year was terrible and I wanted to quit every single day. The only reason I didn’t quit was the fact that I had no idea of what else I wanted to do. Strangely enough I did make it through those first two semesters....

In the second year things started to change when I start working in the Next Nature theme on the In vitro meat project from Koert van Mensvoort which is now part of the Next Nature In Vitro Meat Cookbook. I could combine my passion for cooking and interest of the human body and nature to develop a project that suited me and my way of working and thinking. From that moment on I kept working in the Next Nature theme – even though not switching theme’s was strongly discouraged – and directed all the learning activities and projects towards food themes. From that moment on I obtained nothing but ‘Excellence’ for my semesters, the highest score we can obtain, and focussed on food and concept design. 

What are some of the advantages to using 3D printing for food as found in your project Edible Growth?
I’ve always been very sceptical about 3D printed food. Because the fresh vegetables, fruits and un-processed foods that I like to eat simply cannot be made with 3D-printers. And if it would be possible, it would probably make no sense at all. So when I was thinking about creating a 3D-printed food product that would be natural and healthy, it was a must that the printing part of the production process would add an additional value to the product.

The benefits of printing food are that the food can be personalized in size, kind of nutrients, amount of calories and shape for example. In the Edible Growth concept the printer would also have the advantage of being precise and sterile so that the seeds, spores and seeds would be layered in such a way they will not touch each other, but do reach the substances they need to grow. Also certain structures and shapes cannot be created with regular production methods like the outside structure. Apart from that, the product will minimize the entire food supply chain, and will make better use of raw materials. 

Will research from Edible Growth show that the integration of consumers into the harvesting process can have positive benefits on consumer’s health?
The technology of printing food is still very young and in development. Because we cannot print the product at this point, there are no test results of the influence on the consumer yet. But because the consumer can witness the growth of the product and can experiment with harvesting and eating the product in different stages or intensities, the consumer will inevitably be more involved with the food they eat. With more involvement comes more knowledge, curiosity and awareness, which might lead to a healthier lifestyle and eating pattern as well. 

Why do you prefer the Lupine protein’s properties versus currently used protein sources?
I do not necessarily prefer Lupine proteins, I just showed an example of a Lupine project during Ninety Minutes of Frame to give an example of the role I think designers must take on to satisfy the consumers shifting needs. There are ups and downs to all different proteins, plant or animal based!

What do you think is the future of the field of food design? Will this evolving concept of food design find its way into restaurants and household kitchens?
Edible Growth is moreover a concept to trigger people to think outside the box and inspire people to use technology to enhance natural processes, to merge different disciplines and create food that contributes to solving the world food problems. The appearance of the project is just a visualisation, the ingredient composition will change as the technology develops. So I don’t know if we will find this product within five years in our homes or in restaurants, but I do think something similar might hit the market within a few years. But still, a lot of research and development is necessary to produce real printed food instead of sugar sculptures, chocolate or pasta dough. Unfortunately, the direction these developments will go strongly depends on who will pay for it.

With the increased interest in food, health aspects, heritage, preparation and preservation methods I actually think we will rather see an enormous increase in urban farming, bee-keeping and guerrilla gardening than people going wild buying food-printers.

Save the Date: The 6th edition of Ninety Minutes of Frame: Pigment Pioneers will take place on 19 February 2015.

Photos courtesy of Chloé Rutzerveld