Distributed Design Creative Talent: Chloé Rutzerveld

Design your own future vegetable with the use of growth recipes.
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What will our food system look like in say, 2050? That’s a question future food designer Chloé Rutzerveld tries to answer. She explores and challenges food production and consumption and is fascinated by nature, the human body, and the strange relationship people have with food. Chloé’s work is interdisciplinary and a direct response to the things she questions or is fascinated with. By combining aspects of design, science, and technology she thinks up new ways to make our food more efficient, healthy, ánd sustainable.

Chloé communicates her ideas through speculative design probes, interactive installations, exhibitions, workshops, and experimental dinners. She experiments with cultured meat, 3D printing of food, and the direct cultivation of nutrients with the help of bacteria, fungi, and algae. By using food as a medium she makes new technologies and food-related issues tangible for a wide variety of people, resulting in a better understanding and in-depth discussions. In 2018, Chloé launched her book Food Futures – How Design and Technology can Reshape our Food System in which she questions and explores new food production technologies and translates multidisciplinary research into future food scenarios.

A great example of how distributed design can be applied in the food industry is her Future Food Formula 2.0, a project in collaboration with Next Nature Network and Utrecht University. It is an interactive installation that allows you to step into the shoes of a high-tech farmer and design your personalised future vegetable without the use of GMOs but by making smart use of technology to influence natural growing conditions. All you have to do is adjust the recipe on the touchscreen to see how your input affects the size, colour, taste, and nutritional value of the crop.

The installation is based on growth recipes: by researchers written down values used inside high-tech growth facilities to stimulate growth. Each environmental factor, like humidity, airflow, light spectrum, CO2 concentration, and the pH value of the soil can be simulated and determined separately. Because tomato plants react differently to certain environmental factors than lettuce, scientists create a specific recipe for each crop. This way, farmers can decide either to grow crops in their regular growth cycle or to optimise the growing conditions in order to increase the quality of the crop or incite higher yields.

Today, scientists are experimenting with this technology, but mainly for efficiency purposes. What if we explored the limits of this technology and experimented with the use of growth recipes for purposes other than efficiency? Imagine an era in which we will be cooking with growth-recipes instead of ingredients! Make it purple or orange? Mild or extra spicy? Very light or super-dense? With increased vitamin C? The custom growth-recipes turn your vegetable fantasies into a reality.