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Edible Speculations in the Parlour of Food Futures


Abstract and Figures

Human-Food Interaction (HFI) scholarship has discussed the possible roles of technology in contemporary food systems and proposed design solutions to various food problems. While acknowledging that there are food issues to be fixed, we propose that there is a room for more experimental and playful HFI work beyond pragmatic problem-solving. We introduce a design research project Parlour of Food Futures that speculates on emerging food-tech practices through the 15th-century game of Tarot. Based on three live Parlour enactments, we discuss what contributions and challenges speculative design methods afford to HFI.
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Edible Speculations in the Parlour of
Food Futures
Human-Food Interaction (HFI) scholarship has
discussed the possible roles of technology in
contemporary food systems and proposed design
solutions to various food problems. While
acknowledging that there are food issues to be fixed,
we propose that there is a room for more experimental
and playful HFI work beyond pragmatic problem-
solving. We introduce a design research project Parlour
of Food Futures that speculates on emerging food-tech
practices through the 15th-century game of Tarot.
Based on three live Parlour enactments, we discuss
what contributions and challenges speculative design
methods afford to HFI.
Author Keywords
human food interaction; digital food cultures;
speculative food design
ACM Classification Keywords
H.5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g.,
HCI): Miscellaneous
Technology design is increasingly contributing to
people's food lifestyles and offers promising yet
debatable food futures. From cooking and shopping to
dining and dieting, our mundane food practices have
been colonized by an array of electronic devices,
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CHI'18 Extended Abstracts, April 2126, 2018, Montreal, QC, Canada
© 2018 Association for Computing Machinery.
ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-5621-3/18/04$15.00
Markéta Dolejšová
National University of Singapore
uploaded data, and 'biohacked' food products. While
proponents suggest its potential to support efficient
food lifestyles, critics highlight limited safety and ethical
validity of digital food innovation [11]. The emerging
digital food trends and issues are in the center of Edible
Speculations, a long-term design research project
(2014-2018) using speculative design (SD) methods
extended into live participatory food events. Along with
the project, we aim to expand the growing scope of
food-related scholarship in HCI, commonly known as
Human-Food Interaction (HFI) [6,7,15].
Following the largely pragmatic orientation of HCI
disciplines, HFI has for a long time focused on potential
advantages of digital food technology, and proposed
design solutions to various food problems. However,
HFI community has recently voiced out a need to move
beyond these techno-optimistic framings and embrace
more critical and experimental approaches to digital
food design and research [7,11,18]. This is not to say
that designers should stop trying to improve food
systems, but rather that these efforts should follow the
shift "from problems and solutions to situations and
interventions” prompted by the "third wave" in HCI
[2,p.3]. Instead of churning out more apps and
sensors, critical HFI calls for socially and culturally
robust food designs that reflect the diversity of people's
food habits and traditions. Edible Speculations responds
to this call by probing the use of SD, a design research
tradition known for its prioritization of imaginative
future-oriented inquiries over pragmatic problem-
solving [3,12,13]. Along with the use of SD in the
participatory context of live food events, the project
aims to question the role of digital innovation in
people's food lifestyles. On an example of one Edible
Speculations case study Parlour of Food Futures, we
discuss what opportunities and challenges SD methods
afford to HFI inquiries.
The Parlour of Food Futures is a speculative oracle that
explores possible food futures through the 15th-century
game of Tarot. Participants are invited to "read" the
futures over a bespoke Food Tarot card deck presenting
22 speculative "diet tribes" such as Datavores, Food
Gadgeteers, or Monsa(n)tanists (figure 1).1 During the
card readings, we questioned emerging digital food
trends and provoked future imaginaries: What, where
and how would we eat in the near future? How will the
growing food-tech advancement shape our daily food
habits? Will the growing presence of AI in our
(Western) kitchens result in a new population of Turing
Foodies? And would Turing Foodies trust each other?
The ambiguity of speculative diet tribes grounded in
existing food trends was hoped to prompt playful, but
also critical and reflective thinking. The live Parlour
oracle was performed in various semi-public spaces and
invited participatory engagement of broad, diverse
audience. We introduce findings from three Parlour
enactments organized at a futures festival, a student
art/design showcase, and a maker faire. Reflecting on
people’s interactions in the Parlour, we discuss how
speculation was put to work and what forms of
knowledge it helped to generate for both designers and
participants. Along with the speculative inquiry into
digital food issues, our work contributes to the existing
scope of HFI methodologies. Broadly, by probing the
use of SD extended into live participatory events, we
provide novel insights for the HCI design research
1 The card deck is available at:
Figure 1: Food Tarot cards.
Edible Speculations: Approach
The Edible Speculations (ES) project consists of four
distinct case studies [e.g.9,10] including the Parlour.
The project addresses a diverse scope of digital food
practices, including Quantified Self-style diets, novel
forms of digital food sharing, or the growing use of
'smart' technologies and AI in the kitchen.
The intersections of food and SD methods, or
speculative food design as we might call it, can take
diverse forms. DiSalvo [8] outlined the use of food as a
material SD tool and a trope to prompt a critical inquiry
into other than food issues. Dunne & Raby in their
Foragers [12] speculated about dark futures of food
scarcity, but rather than questioning the existing issues
that might cause such scarcity, they used food merely
as an example to discuss future dystopias. Finally, a
few art/design collectives such as the Center for
Genomic Gastronomy ( or the
Next Nature network ( applied SD to
question food-related issues as a central subject of
their inquiry. However, most of those projects
happened outside HCI or other scholarly contexts. The
ES project aims to fill this gap.
Within the ES context, food serves as the main subject
of inquiry as well as a design tool. Speculative food
artifacts such as a Fermentation Bank for "smart" food
sharing transactions over microbial currency [10] a
StreetSauce bistro serving narrative sauces made of
people's stories [9] or the Food Tarot oracle presented
here, are designed around whimsical yet also inherently
critical propositions. These artifacts are "material
speculations" [21] in that they allow for actual physical
interactions rather than for vicarious engagements
through design fiction props [5]. The aim with these
artifacts is to address various digital food issues and
controversies, and go beyond celebratory accounts of
food as an enjoyable element of human life [15].
However, instead of suggesting constructive solutions
or corrective interventions, the artifacts function as
"unuseless" [3] and "questionable" [20] designs that
invite participants to discuss these food themes in an
imaginative, open-ended manner. By placing these
speculations in a live participatory context, ES invites
feedback from a broad public audience and considers
every food practitioner as an essential stakeholder of
present and near-future food systems. This approach is
informed by the growing conjunctions of speculative
and participatory design methods [3,5,13] aiming to
prompt critical engagement beyond "privileged"
academic and professional design realms [1]. To outline
how the ES approach works in practice, we will now
discuss the Parlour of Food Futures case study.
The Parlour of Food Futures: Edible
Speculations in Practice
The future food forecasting (or "prophecies") in the
Parlour was inspired by the Tarot card technique that
has been traditionally used for divinatory purposes, but
also as a popular game. By using Tarot, we wanted to
prompt playful engagements and embrace the notion of
uncertain, pluralistic food futures. The speculative
Parlour enactments took the form of one-to-one card
readings performed by the designer (author) acting as
a Tarot reader, together with participants approaching
the oracle as querents. By speculating together with
the public audience, we wanted to see what people
think about existing digital food trends and what food
futures can they envision. Our approach was inspired
by performative, experiential methods in SD and
futures work most notably the Speculative
Figure 2: The Tarot de Marseille
cards of The High Priestess and
The Magician.
Enactments by Elsden et al. [13], Experiential Futures
by Candy & Dunagan [5], and Blythe et al's Seriously
Silly design [3]. We also drew inspiration from
speculative card games [19,20] and the use of magic
techniques and spirituality in design research [4].
The Parlour was originally conceived as part of a larger
SD project Parlour of Futures by a team of designers,
biohackers and futurists (including the author) for the
occasion of Emerge - A Festival of Futures 2017. The
original Parlour comprised of four specialized tarot
oracles discussing the future of jobs, biotechnology,
American dream, and food. The Food Parlour has been
subsequently performed in 8 other venues by the
author of this paper, as a standalone project focused
solely on food issues. Here, we discuss Food Parlour
enactments performed at three public events: Maker
Faire Singapore (July 2017), Random Blends student
design showcase (May 2017), and the initial Emerge
festival (2017). All three events were opened to the
public and invited everyone to discuss various emerging
(bio)technological trends. It was thus expected that our
food-tech speculations would fall within the scope of
visitors' interest. The demography of visitors (and
hence Parlour participants) was diverse, ranging from
preschool kids to elderly, male and female.
Designing Food Tarot Cards
Our food cards were inspired by the Tarot de Marseille
tradition, which is one of the standard Tarot cards
patterns. We used a smaller version of Marseille deck
(so-called Major Arcana) comprising of 22 cards
showing various philosophical and social motives
embodied by elements such as The Magician or The
High Priestess (figure 2). Each element has a symbolic
meaning, which we translated into our Food Tarot cards
version (one member of the Parlour team is a
professional Tarot reader). The card design process
started with us creating a list of various emerging food-
tech trends (we came up with 67), which we later
streamlined to 22 and mapped on the original Marseille
cards. Our aim was to best match each selected food
trend with the symbolic meaning of each card. For
instance, The Emperor card symbolizes the urge to
"rule and control" often linked to the "ultimate male
ego". We matched it with the Datavores tribe referring
to Quantified Self-style dieting, which involves users
(mostly males) monitoring their food intake through
self-tracking devices such as Fitbit. This process
resulted in the Food Tarot deck containing 22
"speculative diet tribes" grounded in existing food-tech
trends and brought to their more speculative forms.
The deck was designed to cover a broad scope of digital
food practices and themes, including health and
nutrition (as represented e.g. by Datavores or Gut
Gardeners tribes), food safety and sustainability (e.g.
Monsta(n)tanists, P2P Farmers), food security and
justice (Food Altruists, Food NeoPunks), social food
interactions (e.g. Nutri Amorists, Foodcasters, Turing
Foodies), or DIY food hacking as a form of amateur
citizen science (e.g. Food Biohackers, Food
Psychonauts, Genomic Fatalists see figure 3). While
some diet tribes referred to more commonly known
food practices, others were more far-fetched. For
instance, the Ethical Cannibals tribe inspired by recent
efforts to grow meat in-vitro from animal stem cells
imagined the possibility of growing meat from
consumer’s own biological material. This card was
meant as a response to the frequent critiques of in-
vitro meat arguing that humans should not consume
Figure 3: Each card contains the
name of the diet tribe and an
illustrative picture; keywords
describing the food trends that
the tribe refers to; examples of
services existing in the area; and
the title of the original Tarot card.
animals, and any promotion thereof is thus ethically
The Parlour Oracle
The Parlour was presented as a small booth with 1-2
larger tables, chairs, and notice boards with printed
information materials. The space was decorated to
resemble a traditional Tarot oracle combined with a
futuristic food lab. Apart from various divination
objects, the space was filled with food-tech props
related to the diet tribes from our cards. There were
smartphones with loaded food sharing apps, some
Fitbits, diet supplements, or Petri dishes with
(biosecure) bacterial cultures (to talk about in-vitro
meat). We even built a DIY wetware circuit from
kombucha leather, which we made through traditional
fermentation methods, and an Arduino board (figure 4)
that helped prompt discussions about food hacking
practices such as DIY fermentation.
Food Tarot Readings
The Parlour readings were typically performed
throughout the whole event day (10am-6pm). Each
Parlour visitor was first informed about the research
character of the project and asked if she wants to take
part. Upon the consent, we started with the reading
session (15-30 min). Similarly as in a traditional Tarot
oracle, participants were asked to think deeply about
their food future, shuffle the card deck, and pull out
one card. The reader provided details about the
depicted diet tribe and its connection to existing food
trends, and asked follow-up questions: Are you familiar
with this diet/food practice? Do you have any personal
experiences with it or know anyone who does? Would
you like to see this practice becoming a mainstream?
The diet tribe was then discussed in the context of
participant's answers, experiences, and opinions (figure
5). When the reading finished, each participant was
asked to imagine herself as a member of the selected
diet tribe, and produce a short scenario of her
envisioned future food routines and habits. These could
have included anything from a (speculative) food
technology they would like to use, to the risks they
would possibly need to face. The scenarios were
captured as texts and occasional drawings on colorful
paper sheets (figure 6), which were archived and
together with notes from the readings became a
subject of empirical analysis. We collected feedback
from the total of 64 participants. Below, we discuss
some of the food-related ideas mentioned by
participants, as well as the ways they interacted within
the speculative setting.
Figure 5: Food Tarot readings at Maker Faire Singapore.
Analysis and Reflection
During all three Parlour events, participants tended to
frame the presented speculative tribes within the actual
Figure 4: A kombucha leather
wetware circuit to illustrate food
hacking practices of Food Hackers
and Gut Gardeners.
Figure 6: Examples of scenarios
context of their respective geographical location. At the
Emerge festival (Phoenix, USA) people often mentioned
local food security problems and the presence of food
deserts (i.e., areas with limited access to affordable
and nutritious food). In response to the Gastro
Masochists tribe (dieters deliberately restricting their
access to food with the help of smart kitchenware such
remote-controlled fridge locks; often aiming to lose
body weightfigure 7), one participant mentioned that
such 'masochism' is often involuntary for people living
in the Phoenix food deserts. That directed our reading
dialogue towards the general theme of unequal socio-
economic access to digital food technologies. Along with
the Food Gadgeteers tribe (figure 8), we wanted to
discuss issues around 'smart' kitchenware such as 3D
food printers and IoT ovens designed to augment
people's usual cooking routines. At the Maker Faire,
participants were overly positive about the idea and
saw it as an effective way to enhance consumer
convenience. Nobody mentioned any possible issues
around the tribe, and some people even thought that
we are actually showcasing some food printers at the
Parlour booth. In the largely techno-enthusiastic
context of Maker Faire, the speculative tribe simply
seemed too mundane. A more radical vision of human-
food automation was then raised along with the Turing
Foodies tribe (using AI kitchenware to fully replace
their food-related decision making - figure 9). One
participant was wondering what would happen to
consumer's common sense if all our cooking routines
and decision-making get outsourced to "smart" AI
machines. We discussed the use of AI food-tech as a
form of "cooking simulacrum". In her scenario, the
participant mentioned that in a Turing Foodies future,
people might also stop eating at all: "Why eat anyway?
Food practices will be effective but joyless. We will
become a tasteless society of Food Replicants". The
fears of algorithmic human-food automation were
further mentioned in the context of the Quantified Self
Datavores. Mentioning the growing volume of personal
data exchanged over QS technologies, a Parlour visitor
at Emerge expressed his doubts about Datavores' data
security and privacy (an issue frequently discussed in
HCI literature see e.g. 11). While he saw the benefits
of self-quantification for getting a better overview of
one’s diet, in his scenario he envisioned a bleak future
of "Quantified Slaves" tracking their personal lives and
"donating them to food and healthcare industry".
Figure 9: Food Tarot
card of Turing
Some of the cards with more far-fetched speculations
turned out to be too uncanny or even controversial. An
example was the Ethical Cannibals tribe harvesting
protein sources from their own bodies (figure 10).
During the readings at the first Emerge event, the card
generated rather constrained reactions, and many
participants were confused if it is a serious food
Figure 7: Gastro Masochists card.
Figure 8: Food Gadgeteers.
practice or not. To make them engaged in the reading
dialogue, we had to explain the literal meaning of the
card. That was somewhat counterproductive, as the
dynamics of the speculative reading vanished in lengthy
explanatory monologues. While it first seemed that the
Ethical Cannibals speculation was simply too abstract,
we noticed that it eventually resulted in quite exciting
scenarios. When provided with a detailed explanation
during the readings, participants were able to "digest"
the uncanniness of the tribe and provided various
creative visions of its speculative futures. Imagining
that he would be an Ethical Cannibal, one participant
mentioned that he would consume specific probiotics to
grow mushrooms on his skin and offer the harvest to
his dates in a bar: "rather than buying a depersonalized
drink, I’d offer my very own mushrooms” (figure 11).
However, his scenario was not only a humorous
provocation and was meant as a response to the ethical
critiques of in-vitro meat growing: although his
mushrooms would be still grown on human flesh, the
eventual product would look like a plant and, hence,
won't promote meat consumption. In other words,
while the use of overly ambiguous cards was risky in
terms of shutting down the flow of readings, it also
prompted quite creative future ideas. In contrast, the
cards depicting more mundane and conservative tribes
usually led to longer and more opinionated reading
dialogues, but also to rather dull post-hoc scenarios.
For instance, a majority of scenarios responding to
Urban Foragers (foraging for free edible plants to help
ameliorate food wastage - figure 12) included drawings
of fruit tree orchards and people picking various plants.
While these drawings made sense, they did not bring
much inspiration into our food futures debates. Rather
than renouncing the risky element of ambiguity for the
sake of "safe", yet less exciting food ideas, it thus
seemed meaningful to keep the more far-fetched cards
"in the game". While the more mundane cards provided
a good springboard for the speculation to begin, the
more radical cards were feeding people's critical
thinking and imaginaries. In other words, we had to
find a balance between the strange and the familiar and
better embrace the slight strangeness of our
speculations [12].
Figure 12: Urban
Foragers in search of
wild growing plants.
We attempted to do so by situating each selected card
within a larger thematic context: Instead of performing
the whole Tarot reading around just one card, we
experimented with adding a few extra cards that the
reader would select gradually as the reading
progressed, based on participant’s reactions. That
enabled us to streamline the meaning of more
extravagant cards as well as to "spice up" the more
mundane ones. For instance, when a participant
selected Ethical Cannibals and seemed to be rather
Figure 10: Ethical Cannibals card.
Figure 11: Future Ethical
Cannibals will grow edible
mushrooms on their skin and
share the harvest with each
confused, the reader would ask about any other type of
participant's experiences with at-home food growing
(rather than directly about the option to grow food from
her own stem cells). The answers would then direct the
reading towards other "easier" cards referring to food
growing, such as P2P Farmers (figure 13) and Gut
Gardeners. Similarly, to spice up the conservative
Urban Foragers, the reader would ask about more
advanced food sustainability practices, as illustrated for
instance by Food NeoPunks card (dumpster divers
consuming already discarded food and gleaned from
trash bins - figure 14). After a few readings at Emerge,
we have concluded that this extended reading version
worked well and adopted the strategy for the rest of
the day, as well as for the two upcoming Parlour
Besides the risks of confusion, there was another issue
with the more radical ambiguous speculations. An
"infamous" example provides the NutriAmorists tribe of
dieters experimenting with sex as a way to obtain
nutrition - for instance through probiotics and various
microbiome tweaks to enhance nutritional qualities and
flavor of semen or vaginal fluids. At Emerge, the
NutriAmorists prompted similarly constrained reactions
as the Ethical Cannibals card. When we fully realized
our miscalculation with NutriAmorists, though, was
when the first child participant entered the Parlour. It
was quite expectable that there would be some kids at
the festival, but we simply did not foresee the situation
fully. There was a probability of 1:22 to select exactly
the NutriAmorists from the deck, but we obviously
removed the card for the rest of the day. Although we
still see the theme of food, sex, and nutrition as
relevant (e.g., as an extreme diet personalization or a
form of intimate commensality), the open public
character of Parlour did not allow for such sensitive
themes. For the two upcoming Parlours, we included a
redesigned version of NutriAmorists using a less
sensitive interpretation that referred to the growing
trend of food dating and so-called "Tinder-like food
services" (figure 15).
The Parlour enactments were performed as one-day
events through short 15-30 min. interactions with each
participant. Despite the limited duration, these
speculative experiences were meaningful for both
participants and designers. Some people appreciated
that they learned new food knowledge (one person
even mentioned that visiting the Parlour felt like "sitting
in a live food Wikipedia") others were reportedly
enjoying the option to share their food-related
sentiments and ideas. Although presented as a future-
oriented venue, Parlour invited reflections on existing
food trends and issues. The gathered feedback included
criticism of digital food innovation as well as celebratory
visions of food technology as an agent of positive
change. Some people discussed socio-political
constraints of contemporary food and technology
production; others mentioned potential advantages for
health and diet management or consumer convenience.
The opinions regarding digital food trends gleaned from
Parlour visitors are only anecdotal and do not aim to
have a statistical significance. What the Parlour did
show us, though, is that SD can help prompt people's
creative engagement with various food issues that goes
beyond "mere" pragmatic intellectual reflections.
While the familiarity of the more conservative Food
Tarot cards served as a good way to get people
engaged in the readings, it was the speculative
Figure 13: P2P Farmers.
Figure 14: Food Neopunks.
ambiguity what prompted their creative imaginaries
and critique. Similarly as others [14], we have seen
that ambiguity can be a productive resource in design
research inquiry, but it needs to be properly
contextualized within people’s real-life experiences. The
overly ambiguous or extreme speculative ideas created
confusion and resulted in constrained - and for our
purposes rather useless - responses. At the same time,
the use of more mundane food cards did not bring
much better results, as evident from participants' bleak
response to Urban Foragers, or Food Gadgeteers at the
Maker Faire. However, this negative feedback served as
a productive resource that helped us iterate our design
concept and make it better suit our research aims.
While a careful reflection on negative feedback helped
us to overcome the project's partial failures, not all our
design misconceptions could have been resolved in that
way. The incongruity of the NutriAmorists card that we
realized during the first Parlour enactment made us to
update the card design. However, this iteration did not
help us to communicate what we wanted to
communicate. While we saw the original theme outlined
on the card as relevant, we simply had to compromise
and adjust it to the open public character of the Parlour
project. This is a limitation of our participatory
approach to speculative inquiry, which fully relies on
the involvement of a random uncurated audience. At
the same time, working with a spontaneously
participating audience also brought some benefits: we
can assume that the option to participate without
previous enrollment and decide only "on the spot"
contributed to greater scope and diversity of our
audience. Another factor that helped us attract people's
attention was the visually and conceptually extravagant
aesthetics of the Parlour. During the readings, many
people mentioned that they are not foodies, nor
specifically interested in any food-related issues. Still,
they were keen to try out the "magic" food-tech oracle
experience. The speculative Parlour aesthetics thus
helped us glean feedback from a diverse group of
people, many of whom would most likely not participate
in more conservative and serious food projects. At the
same time, the "seriously silly" [3] tone embraced by
many SD works - ours included - could be
counterproductive to the goal of generating a
meaningful engagement. Speculative projects are often
condemned for being "criticool" rather than critical and
creating only a vague engagement grounded in humor
and irony [17]. This was also evident from some of the
less elaborate scenarios and reading sessions in the
Parlour. While for many people, Parlour served as a
meaningful experience and a source of valuable
inspiration, others might have seen it merely as a form
of banal entertainment.
The Parlour project shows that there is a room for more
experimental and playful design approaches to HFI
work. We have seen that speculation can engage
diverse publics and prompt critical reflections on
present food systems as well as creative future food
imaginaries. While we have focused specifically on food
themes, the participatory approach to SD research can
also be applied in other HCI research contexts. The
entanglements of digital technology and food practices
in many ways epitomize contemporary dilemmas
around the growing digitization of everyday life. Similar
issues with data security, safety, and ethical validity of
digital food practices hinted in our fieldwork are
relevant also in the broader context of data-driven
lifestyles. Having said that, we hope that our findings
would be of use for HFI scholars interested in novel
Figure 15: NutriAmorists 'before'
and 'after'.
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... Chisik et al. review gastroludology (gastronomy and ludology) in eating and drinking [13], highlighting speculative approaches (e.g. [3,22]) as a promising way forward. Altarriba Bertran and Wilde review playfulness in New Cookery (high gastronomy) [3], demonstrating from the perspective of play theory that chef's approaches to play are limited and that diners would welcome an opening up of this space. ...
... We analysed author keywords across all publications. The most used keywords are: food (22), games (18), design (11), interaction (10), eating (8), game (7), play (7), and health (7). From this initial sort we grouped keywords as gamerelated, play-related, or playfulness-related-three concepts commonly used in play theory and design to differentiate types of play artifacts (e.g. ...
Conference Paper
In response to calls for sense-making in the field of Human-Food Interaction, we offer a systematic review of a subset of HFI works that we call Playful HFI-interventions that use game- or play-inspired mechanisms to add value to food-related experiences. To support our review, we offer a conceptual model of Playful HFI informed by: (i) the 34 publications in our dataset; (ii) theories of play, games and HFI; and (iii) previous reviews of play-related HCI. Our conceptual model and review characterise the current state of Playful HFI, highlight resemblances and differences with the broader field of HFI as a whole and surface challenges and opportunities in this new and exciting design space. Our contribution will help HFI scholars to explore new and increasingly playful avenues for the future of food technology and will empower the HFI community to better position (and critically reflect on) future research at the intersection of play, technology and food.
... So far, HFI has explored food and food systems holistically and across domains primarily through design speculations (e.g. [27,41]) and workshops at international conferences such as CHI (e.g. [29,66]) or DIS (e.g. ...
... In these workshops, researchers discussed and prototyped speculative designs across food domains to support ecologically and socially sustainable food futures. To support such speculations, Dolejsova [27] developed a 'food tarot' card deck with a broad range of possible future food technologies. While we are inspired from the approach adopted in these works, in this paper we are concerned with present-day food realities and alternatives to the mainstream food system. ...
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Our food system is a socio-material, heterogeneous infrastructure whose complexity and interconnectedness often remains invisible to citizens. While moments of crisis expose the vulnerabilities and injustices underlying this system, this paper seeks to explore which processes and tools CSCW could purposely design to 'open up' food infrastructures and bring young and adult people in contact with different aspects of the food system to cultivate food citizenship from a more-than-human perspective. Through a collaboration with a local primary school and four different food organisations (a mushroom grower, a vegetable farm, a bread-baking community centre, and a food bank) in North East England, UK, we designed 'contact zones' that enabled a class of students aged 7 to 8 years to encounter socio-material food practices at each partnering organisation's site and in the classroom. Our insights show young people's rich engagement in the socio-materiality of place, food, and practices; how encountering food practices across very different sites helped surface the interconnectedness of the food system; and how the contact zones opened spaces to practice food citizenship. The paper offers design implications towards infrastructuring more-than-human food pedagogies. It discusses inherent power dynamics of more-than-human design collaborations, critically evaluates the role of technology in more-than-human relations, and presents three design opportunities towards a relational understanding of food.
... The unfolding series of Parlour events enables us to collect food knowledge in various social settings and reflect in an iterative process of reflection-in-action (Schön, 1984): emerging insights are used to move forward with the research, but also to revisit previous considerations. In other words, each card reading and scenario session within the design research series generates some new insights into human-food-tech relationships that inform the events to come as well as our overall reporting of the Parlour project (c.f., Dolejšová, 2018a). Our first-hand perspective and involvement in-situ as researchers co-performing the speculation together with participants, is crucial in this regard. ...
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Digital food technologies carry promise for better food futures but they are often problematic in their impact on food systems and cultures. While proponents suggest that food-tech products such as smart kitchenware or diet personalisation services can support efficient food practices, critics highlight various risks. This paper presents our findings from Edible Speculations, a long-term design research project exploring the contested space of food-tech innovation through a series of speculative design (SD) events situated in everyday public contexts. We illustrate the opportunities and limits of eventful SD in supporting critical engagements with food-tech issues through an Edible Speculations case study called the Parlour of Food Futures. Our discussion of selected Parlour events can inform readers interested in food-tech themes as well as those keen on experimenting with eventful approaches to SD research.
... Prior HFI work has made similar arguments, and theoretical work on examining these different angles is currently being conducted (e.g. [9,10,20]). We draw on prior overview work on HFI [11] and extend it through a particular lens for playful design. ...
Conference Paper
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There is an increasing trend in HCI to combine eating and technology. We highlight the potential of interactive technology to support an experiential perspective on eating, in particular, how interactive technology can support experiencing eating as play. To understanding this, we reflect on four playful interactive eating systems we designed and two other works to articulate five strategies: make eating challenging, break cultural norms, design across eating stages, reduce eating autonomy, and playfully extend the social aspect. For each, we also include practical implementation options to provide designers with initial guidance on how they can begin to support experiencing eating as play. Ultimately, with our work, we aim to facilitate a future where eating is more playful.
... There are also smart dishes which can provide additional information about the size (volume and weight) of the rations they contain. In this work, we will refer indistinctly to this kind of connected devices, which sensed information can be accessed through the Internet (directly or through a proxy), as smart home appliances and smart kitchenware devices Dolejsova (2018). All these novel technologies bring about underexplored possibilities to record, analyze, monitor and supervise users nutrition. ...
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Currently there exist many tools that support monitoring and encouragement of healthy nutrition habits in the context of wellness promotion. In this domain, interfaces based on natural language provide more flexibility for nutritional self-reporting than traditional form-based applications, allowing the users to provide richer and spontaneous descriptions. Nonetheless, in certain circumstances, natural language records may miss some important aspects, such as the quantity of food eaten, which results in incomplete recordings. In the Internet-of-Things (IoT) paradigm, smart home appliances can support and complement the recording process so as to make it more accurate. However, in order to build systems that support the semantic analysis of nutritional self-reports, it is necessary to integrate multiple inter-related components, possibly within complex e-health platforms. For this reason, these components should be designed and encapsulated avoiding monolithic approaches that derive in rigidity and dependency of particular technologies. Currently, there are no models or architectures that serve as a reference for developers towards this objective. In this paper, we present a service-based architecture that helps to contrast and complement the descriptions of food intakes by means of connected smart home devices, coordinating all the stages during the process of recognizing food records provided in natural language. Additionally, we aim to identify and design the essential services that are required to automate the recording and subsequent processing of natural language descriptions of nutritional intakes in association with smart home devices. The functionalities provided by each of these services are ready to work in isolation, just out of the box, or in downstream pipeline processes, bypassing the inconveniences of monolithic architectures.
This article explores the use of design fiction as a vehicle for critically reflecting on the complex issue of sustainable food consumption and production. The paper presents the design fiction Bird, a food delivery service that provides food rations to its customers based on their exact nutritional needs and self-improvement goals. The service makes food consumption sustainable by design, leveraging individual lifestyle ambitions to circumvent the need to translate sustainability awareness into action. We discuss what it means to embed provocation, critique, and reflection in a design fiction that highlights potential preferable and non-preferable trajectories of change related to imaginaries of technocentric food futures. Through a design fiction artefact that reflects a complex set of ethical, social, cultural, political, and environmental issues related to food consumption, the aim is to examine how design fiction can serve as an entry point for imagining and critiquing possible futures.
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Our everyday technologies could have appeared terrifying to our ancestors: instantaneous disembodied communication, access to knowledge, objects with ‘intelligence’ that talk to us (and each other). Black boxes and intangible entities are omnipresent in our homes and lives without our necessarily understanding the hidden flows of data, unknown agendas, imaginary clouds, and mysterious rules that govern them. Have humanity's ways of relating to the unknown throughout history gone away, or have they perhaps transmuted into new forms? In an ongoing project, we have inventoried examples, encounters and reflections on contemporary technology, framed through the perspective of the haunted, spectral and otherworldly. In this paper, we excerpt this collection to illustrate the value and opportunity of an unfamiliar, disquieting perspective in helping to frame the frictions, beliefs and myths that are emerging around interactions with everyday technologies. We posit and demonstrate ‘spooky technology’ as an accessible framework to reflect and respond to our increasingly entangled relationships with technology.
Conference Paper
In this paper, we present aicracy, a critical design project that portrays a society ruled by an artificial intelligence. Five hypothetical objects from this society are presented: a bracelet that gives citizens feedback about their deeds, a patch that releases dopamine into its wearer's blood, an office chair that collapses when its user is unproductive, a shopping basket that displays different prices for different users, depending on how much they contribute to society, and a marble-based voting machine.
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The HotKarot & OpenSauce project explores the possibilities of speculative food design in encouraging social inclusion and interaction among citizens of different socioeconomic backgrounds. The project employs the associative power of taste embodied in edible storytelling prototypes that consist of a carrot hotdog served with 'narrative' sauces created in the online OpenSauce cookbook. The cookbook enables users to input various text narratives and, using the network text analysis technique, convert them into personalized sauce recipes to be served in a mobile street food bistro. As part of collaboration with the Homelike NGO providing social support to homeless women, we designed a series of "StreetSauces" made of the life stories of nine Homelike's clients. Here we report findings from an ongoing series of design probes conducted at the StreetSauce bistro, with an aim to identify the challenges and opportunities of edible speculations used in the design-oriented research.
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Recent speculative and critical design practices may critique the dominant socio-cultural assumptions of technologies, but often lack diversity and participatory input outside the privileged realm of academic and professional designers. #is paper investigates the process and potential of designing speculative futures with local communities, in order to collectively imagine technology that serves a common good and reinforces local identity. This study reflects on the “Sankofa City” project, a three-month community-university collaboration based in a historically black neighborhood in South Los Angeles. The project utilized design fiction scenario videos and collages to present provocative design concepts to local stakeholder meetings and the general public. This paper analyzes the methodology and outcomes of co-designing emerging technologies (such as augmented reality and self-driving cars) in order to establish “infrastructures of the imagination” for long-term strategies and alternative cultural models of innovation.
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Speculative Enactments are a novel approach to speculative design research with participants. They invite the empirical analysis of participants acting amidst speculative but consequential circumstances. HCI as a broadly pragmatic, experience-centered, and participant-focused field is well placed to innovate methods that invite first-hand interaction and experience with speculative design projects. We discuss three case studies of this approach in practice, based on our own work: Runner Spotters, Metadating and a Quantified Wedding. In distinguishing Speculative Enactments we offer not just practical guidelines, but a set of conceptual resources for researchers and practitioners to critique the different contributions that speculative approaches make to HCI discourse.
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The Fermentation GutHub is a local community of fermentation enthusiasts in Singapore formed around 'smart' human-microbial interactions. The project is a critique of the common IoT utopia claiming efficient and transparent interactions between citizens and various stakeholders using smart sensors and monitoring devices in the cities of the future. Instead of relying on technology produced and supported by corporate actors or large government plans, the GutHub scenario uses existing fermentation groups and DIY tools as a model for designing resilient and symbiotic urban communities. Against the utopia of evidence-based decision making driven by policy and corporate actors, it emphasizes the importance of collective experience with risk and opportunities negotiated on a grassroots level. The project supports citizens' exchanges of various cultures, fermentation practices, and sometimes dangerous but also beneficial experiments with our guts as an interface, and proposes a model for messier IoT scenarios of future cities.
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Much of the academic and commercial work which seeks to innovate around technology has been dismissed as "solutionist" because it solves problems that don't exist or ignores the complexity of personal, political and environmental issues. This paper traces the "solutionism" critique to its origins in city planning and highlights the original concern with imaging and representation in the design process. It is increasingly cheap and easy to create compelling and seductive images of concept designs, which sell solutions and presume problems. We consider a range of strategies, which explicitly reject the search for "solutions". These include design fiction and critical design but also less well-known techniques, which aim for unuseless, questionable and silly designs. We present two examples of "magic machine" workshops where participants are encouraged to reject realistic premises for possible technological interventions and create absurd propositions from lo-fi materials. We argue that such practices may help researchers resist the impulse towards solutionism and suggest that attention to representation during the ideation process is a key strategy for this.
What is food and why does it matter? Bringing together the most innovative, cutting-edge scholarship and debates, this reader provides an excellent introduction to the rapidly growing discipline of food studies. Covering a wide range of theoretical perspectives and disciplinary approaches, it challenges common ideas about food and identifies emerging trends which will define the field for years to come. A fantastic resource for both teaching and learning, the book features: - a comprehensive introduction to the text and to each of the four parts, providing a clear, accessible overview and ensuring a coherent thematic focus throughout - 20 articles on topics that are guaranteed to engage student interest, including molecular gastronomy, lab-grown meat and other futurist foods, microbiopolitics, healthism and nutritionism, food safety, ethics, animal welfare, fair trade, and much more - discussion questions and suggestions for further reading which help readers to think further about the issues raised, reinforcing understanding and learning. Edited by Melissa L. Caldwell, one of the leaders in the field, Why Food Matters is the essential textbook for courses in food studies, anthropology of food, sociology, geography, and related subjects.
Conference Paper
There is significant interest in designing technologies for the food system, from agricultural modeling tools to apps enabling humans to assess nutritional value of various food choices to drones for pest detection. However, a good food system must be a sustainable one. There is an urgent need for deliberation and thoughtfulness in designing for both technologies that support existing food systems and new modalities that work towards more sustainable food systems. This workshop will bring together HCI researchers, designers, and practitioners with an interest in exploring what constitutes a sustainable food system, as well as defining the role of HCI in this domain. Our key objectives for this workshop will be to identify what opportunities for design and collaboration exist and to lay the foundation for an active foodCHI community.
Today designers often focus on making technology easy to use, sexy, and consumable. In "Speculative Everything," Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby propose a kind of design that is used as a tool to create not only things but ideas. For them, design is a means of speculating about how things could be -- to imagine possible futures. This is not the usual sort of predicting or forecasting, spotting trends and extrapolating; these kinds of predictions have been proven wrong, again and again. Instead, Dunne and Raby pose "what if" questions that are intended to open debate and discussion about the kind of future people want (and do not want). "Speculative Everything" offers a tour through an emerging cultural landscape of design ideas, ideals, and approaches. Dunne and Raby cite examples from their own design and teaching and from other projects from fine art, design, architecture, cinema, and photography. They also draw on futurology, political theory, the philosophy of technology, and literary fiction. They show us, for example, ideas for a solar kitchen restaurant; a flypaper robotic clock; a menstruation machine; a cloud-seeding truck; a phantom-limb sensation recorder; and devices for food foraging that use the tools of synthetic biology. Dunne and Raby contend that if we speculate more -- about everything -- reality will become more malleable. The ideas freed by speculative design increase the odds of achieving desirable futures. © 2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All rights reserved.