Design in Action: Food Chiasma, Oakwood Cookery School, Elgin
Scotland is renowned for its exceptional food produce with a vibrant community of artisan producers creating food of outstanding quality. The second Design in Action Chiasma focused upon the food sector and how design could be utilised to further build the sector without losing sight of the unique nature of the produce. The two day event was held in Oakwood Cookery School in Elgin, a fitting setting providing a forum for designers, academics and food producers to meet, collaborate and develop innovative new ideas.
The call for the Food Chiasma proved popular with participants from a wide range of backgrounds attending the event. Food companies such as Baxters, Flavourly.com, Lovsushi and Scomac were present along with Nutrition, Product Design, Engineering and Food Science academics from the Robert Gordon University, the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay. An exciting mix of designers were also present with a comprehensive range of design skills including illustration, new product design, service design, co-design and edible prop making!
The Chiasma was facilitated by Toby Scott of Know Innovation, an experienced facilitator, who has worked at the nexus of creativity and design for over twenty years and also has experience of working with the artisan food sector. We were delighted that Paul Grant, the Chairman of MacKays Ltd could attend the event to provide the keynote address and delegates were fascinated to learn how MacKays utilised design in marketing and retailing their range of marmalades and preserves in over 50 countries worldwide.
In keeping with the theme of artisan food, we invited the Scottish Sculpture Workshop to exhibit their Maker’s Meal at the Chiasma. The Maker’s Meal is a hand crafted table, cutlery and pottery exhibit which was created by a local community sharing their skills to produce a unique table setting. Local artist and renowned cook, Merlyn Riggs prepared food with meaning, prompting participants to think about the food and its origins and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit and the meal.
Throughout the Chiasma, participants formed various teams of designers, academics and food producers, in order to consider key issues such as provenance, sustainability, digital opportunities and growing markets. Through creative thinking and ideation sessions, teams were supported to develop innovative ideas and informal presentations enabled teams to share their emerging ideas receiving comprehensive feedback from their peers. Participants also had the opportunity to change teams to capitalise on their skills, before developing a final presentation to share with the Evaluation Panel.
We were very grateful that Elizabeth Mathie of the Grampian Food Forum, Scott Carnegie of Discovery Investments Ltd, Graham Grant of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Professor Paul Harris Head of Gray’s School of Art at Robert Gordon University, could join the Evaluation Panel and provide teams with valuable insight and feedback on their ideas.
By the end of the Chiasma, the teams had generated five innovative ideas and the feedback from participants about their experience at the Chiasma was enthusiastic, as detailed in their quotes:
‘A fabulous platform to explain why “mixed minded” individuals contribute to the generation of new and innovative ideas.’
‘Informative, energetic, enjoyable, relevant + current.’
‘Professional and focused working atmosphere’
‘Loved the idea and really enjoyed the event thanks for organising.’
Teams now have the opportunity to progress and develop their ideas further and apply for funding of up to £20,000 to help with the commercialisation process.
The aim of this Chiasma was to create new ideas for the food sector, specifically looking at new opportunities for artisan food companies in Scotland. See the ‘Business Opportunity’ section of the Call for Participants/Terms of Engagement document for more details.