Venus influence

My friend told me about Venus retrograde and how it becomes a time of reflection on emotional aspects: relationships and passions. I certainly feel that going on in my own life but more so in my passions with work (well perhaps I've been reflecting this way since graduating from RISD). I'm finding where I fit in and checking in with myself every now and again to see if the situation feels right. For me, it's about signs, a little glimpse of warmth, that tingling in the base of your skull when inspired by something. I know it's a real connection when something physical manifests... For instance, I got excited when I saw this just now:

Chilean design studio  Great Things to People

Chilean design studio Great Things to People

Back at RISD, I played around with casting fabric as ceramic objects. I enjoyed the process but the results were a bit messy and ended up looking contrived. I'd love to try again and the work above just inspired another go. I've also been looking at Hasami Porcelain.

Hasami Porcelain

Hasami Porcelain

It's a Japanese/Santa Monica tableware company that uses simple forms and simple glazes. I'm currently in love. So my next project are plates and bowls, perhaps some lighting too that finds a place in the middle of fabric and clean forms. 

A conference for food

Looking for talks all about food. this should be good.

Agrarian economics. Dry farming. Engineered waste. Vaporized nutrition. Synthetic flavors. Moral food. How are any of these things a function of design?

On the other hand: how could they be anything else?

On February 12, 2016, Design Observer will host a symposium on the relationship between design and food. Held in the Los Angeles Theater Center in downtown LA, Taste will feature speakers from across the United States and Europe: we’ll consider the visual evolution of artificial flavor; the historical artistry of mid-century menus; the future of permaculture, the promises of packaging, and the vicissitudes of waste. We’ll look at marketing tactics and distribution platforms; climate change and culinary excess; new economies of scale, old expressions of culture—and everything in between. We’ll eat, drink, and be merry, while raising critical questions about where this is all heading. And we hope you’ll join us.

the program (just the afternoon session):


Afternoon Keynote
Mark Bittman 
UC Berkeley

Lynda Deakin

Alissa Walker
In Conversation with
Jessica Koslow
Chef, Sqirl 

Afternoon Tasting Menu  
Presented by Mold
Erika Katrina Barbosa, Elaine Cheung, Nan Tsai, + Josh Bookman, forkCHESTRA
Julie Plevin + Lucy KnopsCritter Bitters 

Mid-Afternoon Break
Featuring Cold Brew Courtesy of Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Jennifer Broutin Farah
Sprouts IO
Future of the Connected Kitchen
Edward Silva
Thought for Food
Ron Finley
Artist, Designer, Guerrilla Gardener  

Mike Errico
Closing Remarks

Closing Party
Shuttle bus service from LATC

Food in the Library

Fall is here, but Los Angeles does not seem to notice. I spent the weekend there wandering Echo Park, Downtown, Venice, Santa Monica, & Topanga Canyon. I was without a jacket in all these locations (except Topanga... bring layers).  The primary reason was to visit friends, one of which is working at Brendan Ravenhill Studio. She's a friend from school (RISD), we caught up over sticky coconut rice at Night + Market Song. I stayed at an Airbnb that night in Echo Park, the place was decorated by the owner's paintings. 

I could have stretched in the next day into four days worth of activities but why not squeeze them into one? Especially when parking in downtown L.A. My initial interest was in going to the Library to see, To Live and Dine in L.A. An exhibit highlighting menu's of old and displayed in a bright chartreuse scheme that gives yours eyes a lot to digest. 

Since I was parked in MOCA a validated lot, that was included in the itinerary. I spent about an hour scoping the one level offerings... it was good. A nice preview of modern art. After this I went across the street to The Broad. I had heard one needed a reservation, the admission is free but booked way into 2016. I guessed they might make room for walk-ins - which they do! It was about a 20 minute wait but then voila! You're in. The building is a feature in itself, a honeycomb-like structure gives the space loads of natural light - displaying artwork in their most flattering.

Grand Central Market. Food time. If you have ever been to the San Francisco Ferry Building or Eataly, this is kind of what this feels like, but on a smaller, much more approachable scale. There are tons of Mexican offerings but I was craving something different, maybe healthy? I ordered a chicken salad, probably not the most popular item on their menu but it did the trick. Bombo - a spanish seafood inspired eatery. 

My next destination took me to Venice. I met up with a friend from our banana slug days (UCSC) and window shopped on Abbot Kinney. Tortoise was hands down my favorite shop... I wanted to buy all the japanese home goods. Please go there. We ate lunch at Lemonade... too many choices, I was overwhelmed. Then a new orleans iced coffee at Blue Bottle. I purchased some beans for Mom and got my second jolt of caffeine for the day. We drove over the the promenade, Santa Monica. What a scene on a Saturday; street performers, strollers, underage mobs. The usual points of interest: Lush, Anthropologie, Madewell. Happy hour at East Borough (Culver City) followed, a vietnamese spot known for tasty cheapies like pho baguette, bao, and lettuce cups. The Saturday of Indulgence continued to AMC Theaters - Dine in. The movie was so-so, I miss you already, but the reclining seats were worth it. 

Sunday morning at Menotti's Coffee Shop... so hipster, so cool. Reviews raved at the almond milk latte so I got the cappuccino version. They were right, it's spot on. It's near Venice beach Boulevard... a sketchy looking scene in the early morning light but probably harmless. My friend's baby shower in Topanga Canyon happened later that day - a nice Baby-Q as they say. L.A. was a fun visit and maybe one day I'll be convinced to lived there but until then, I'll stick to the Bay Area.

Pre-paris - getting lost

The ubiquity of map and navigation apps these days can be a boon, but it also means that pedestrians can easily choose efficiency at the expense of discovery.

’We travel for romance, we travel for architecture, and we travel to be lost,’ the writer Ray Bradbury said in a 1990 interview with Rob Couteau. ‘There’s nothing better than to walk around Paris and not know where in hell you are.’

I'm actually going to Paris. It's strange it hasn't happened yet, I'm finally going to taste a real baguette, sit a sidewalk cafe, sip wine at a french bistro, stroll through an open air market, buy fancy soap... and whatever else I've imagined doing while pretending to be a classy tourist. Maybe even a french romance ;) That would be so Before sunset/sunrise.

The other purpose for this trip is worth sharing. I'll being going to a little town for a workshop with a big name, Domaine de Boisbuchet. Sigga Heimis, a designer for IKEA will be teaching a workshop on Cooking, Eating, and Designing. It will be a fun filled week and capped with two days in Paris. If anyone feels like sharing tips, please fill me in. This will be my first time in France (not counting a weekend in Nice, while studying abroad in Italy. it was cold and I was on a student budget.) Needless to say, I'm arriving with wide eyes and an empty stomach/shopping bag. Pictures will follow in 10-14 days. Till then mon amie. 

Thank you RISD, IKEA and Domaine Boisbuchet for this exciting opportunity.  

{art + food}

After all, the most literal visceral connection we make is with food… The acts of art-making and cooking align in many ways; both reactive and creative, they mimic and accommodate one another. Good food makes our dining table into a place apart, a place where our animal need to feed can be exquisitely met, and space is cleared for our human dreams and desires.
— Alice Waters
Pantone Tarts, a French style and food blog by Emilie Griottes. 

Pantone Tarts, a French style and food blog by Emilie Griottes. 

I just loved what is said here by Alice Waters. Her words are published in a book by Studio Olafur Eliasson, TYT [Take Your Time], Vol. 5: The Kitchen. 

Lunch break at Studio Olafur Eliasson.

Lunch break at Studio Olafur Eliasson.

Food as social glue. Eating lunch with your fellow colleagues creates a shared experience. A very important part of being human, feeling connected. Now a meal with 20 + people everyday isn't a reality for most people. My next thought is, should we be making more attempts to access communal eating space? Should the social part of a meal be as vital as food itself? Perhaps not quite that extreme but it's a reoccuring thought for me. Having just finished 2.5 years of eating primarily alone (grad school = not a sustainable lifestyle) and now living with the option of sharing most meals with others, I find it a little out of my comfort zone at times. WHAT?! I admit, I like having my breakfast solo, coffee, and time to fully turn on. But what is gained when someone else is present, asks me to be more present. The food tastes better when I'm not absorbed in a reading a blog, checking my phone, things I often do when I dine alone. Eating by oneself can be ceremonious, no doubt about it. Social eating can be uncomfortable but most often it's a great experience, the best experience. Making an effort to eat more with others, saying yes, is definitely a good thing. 

Out in the food field

There's a few things worth mentioning: first off, I finished my master's program at RISD. Yay! I had a show with my fellow graduates at the Rhode Island Convention center. Here's what it looked like:

pleinware and brunch photos

plankets: flexible ceramic eating surfaces

plankets: flexible ceramic eating surfaces

This project will also be featured here, The Second International Conference on Food Design, which will take place on November 5-7, 2015, at The New School in New York City.

A friend just made me aware of Loneeaters. A blog devoted to the culture of eating alone. 

And as for me, I'm headed to the Steel House in Rockland Maine as a designer in residence.

Cheers to summer!



breakable fannies

Fanny packs and slings are on the brain. As well as flexible ceramics. Yes, I know I know, ceramic is not the optimal material for wearing and moving about but why not give it a try. I'm not exactly sure why it was ever used  as tableware in the first place, so fragile. The language of eating-ware, 'tableware,' is a language composed of fired and glazed clay. Mud. Funny how the things we eat pristined bites off of are basically made of mud. Which makes me think, how else should the food be served?

So far this semester I've focused on making wearable tableware. I've looked at the current wearable things that carry food: camping gear, slings, fanny packs, etc... And other hanging products in the world of planters. I started the form finding by casting sewn pockets and pouches which turned quite literal. They looked like casted pouches, some looked like butts. I had to do away with the obvious, "that looks like fabric" and shaved away the folds and other textural clues. What amounted was a creased look, similar to folded paper. This is an artist I came across as inspiration, Ruth Gurvich. 

Ruth Gurvich porcelain

Ruth Gurvich porcelain

porcelain planters by farrah sit

porcelain planters by farrah sit

I've arrived a four prototypes. I'd love to spend more time on the form but I'm really excited to test them out. Tuesday they will be bisqued and on their way to glazing and final fire. I'll be adding some post-production materials similar the the leather strap in farrah sit's planters so people can wear the pieces. There will be an event, something with food, something that asks the participant to move and eat at the same time.  I'm proposing a way to eat in between the convenient 'to-go' way and the time-privileged 'for here' way. A ritual or way of eating that reflects the style of the times: eating away from the table. The ceramics are attempts to make eating away from the table with permanent tableware feel less disposable, less of task and more of an experience. 

there's some extra stuff going on at the end here. Prototypes for flexible tablemat/plate. Platemat? For eating on laps, soft surfaces. Then the bug banquet Nic and I attended last night. There's a picture of the silkworm and cricket skewer. Alice Taranto, RISD graphic design, cohosted with Johnson and Wales students. Great job on the bug food, it was pretty tasty, especially the cricket flatbread. 

Kyushoku - a cute lunch

Japan was lovely.  January was cold but not as bad as Providence. Five weeks in Kashihara-jingu nishi guchi with RISD Ceramics . We ate cute food, soaked in fancy hot baths and fired some pots. Eat, Bathe, Clay.  I kept note of the eating adventures - writings will follow the photos.

Please enjoy this massive blog post. 

The 7-11 Standard
The Seven Eleven is a bedazzling bright feature in rural Japan. In the small town of Kashihara-jingu nishiguchi, the place is visited daily. Walking through the automatic door brings the visitor directly to the counter. The friendly clerk chimes, 'ohayo gozaimas’ [good morning] as the visitor finds 100 yen coin for a hot cup of koo-hii. This Seven Eleven, un-unique to its location, is expansive in the selection of rice snacks, rice balls, rice wine, chocolate mushroom cookies, edamame sticks, cans of beer, pocky in every flavor and a coffee machine that grinds and brews your beans to order. The visitor’s participation is required, with the push of a button, the machine drips a single hot drink into the white seven eleven cup. The smell and flavor is quite right, not bitter nor artificially altered, the mouth is warmed, yet the body wonders if the caffeine will work. 'Arigatou gozaimashite’ [thank you very very much] accompanied with a bow packages each visit to the Seven Eleven. The next day is the same. The memory melds into one, no single snack or koohii stands out and a standard of convenient satisfaction is formed.

The Naoshima Trip

“SUMIMASEN!” Eating out at (the only restaurant open on Naoshima Island)
The tofu came in a tower and it was really soft. There was a pastel pink puff cracker with with a bowl of yellow, orange eggy shrimp dip. The beers were local, Naoshima Story: a ginger beer, one mixed with sake and a lager. The thing that stuck out about that meal was that it was really long. When you want to order you have to yell across the restaurant like your hailing a cab, “sumimasen” [excuse me]. I first learned about that protocol from Kelli, our Japan teacher/yoga instructor, who’s not good at yelling. We waited a long time to order. The dishes came out in waves, as did the feeling of fullness. Across the room were two Boston-esque men, chain smoking and talking loud. The thing that was so not Boston was that they sat loosely in their chairs, flexible, with one leg up and another twisted under their seated behind. They were ultra stretchy gangsters. They also knew how to yell, “sumimasen."

strange and cute

strange and cute



For most Japanese school children, school lunches are more than just a tray of food. Gakko-kyushoku, school lunches, are an integral part of their studies. Along with tasty meals, Japan’s unique kyushoku system serves up some very important lessons in nutrition, health, cooking, social skills and more.


The bento stock exchange - long winded yelp
Group Eating. Lunch time trading.
tags: #socializing #entertainment #cafeteria

Today’s Bento: the small compartments: grated burdock root, carrot, potato-gummy pickles and tofu shavings. Macaroni salad, bean sprout pickle, daikon pickles, half moon fish cake. For the big square: shrimp and corn croquette, a potato and green onion dumpling, and a piece of very poignant fish. My favorite thing is the panko dusted mystery meat that takes the main space of the bento everyday. Save if for last and you’ll be happy.


when I’m not chatting with Yoshi, I eat in a group.  Sharing happens, but it is not cute moments with strangers. It is a hungry bunch, we offer up the unwanted foods, each other's company included. Some eat meat. Some only eat fish. Some say they are vegetarian but wind up taking a bite of everything. One guy is just a picky eater. Some eat only cooked foods. Some eat only fresh foods, nothing fried. Then there are preferences for vegetables, for pickles, for sweets, for tofu, for rice. Every day, it’s the Bento stock exchange.

The Okamura Printing Co. cafeteria is primarily employees. The room's ceilings are low with eight long narrow tables provided in the hall. Fluorescent lighting fills the space as does the Japanese version of PBS that plays the same soap opera every day. Finding where to sit is easy in a sea of yellow okamura jackets, we are the mismatched gang of students caked in clay. We fill our own table, 16 seats. Each lunch bento is about 12 in wide, 5 in across and 2 in deep. It fits on a tray and comes with a lid. The tray also carries: wooden chopsticks with toothpick included, a tea cup, a portion of rice, and a bowl of miso soup.  Inside, the box, 6 compartments separate the items. Things don’t touch in a bento, which makes for a happy picky eater.

There’s something about uncovering the box, the big reveal and the calm before the storm. It’s a bit like un doing an over-wrapped present (this theme hold true for all of Japan). Extra paper is not just extra wrapping. It provides a separation of outside and inside, the physical barrier behaves as a mental transition. The inner space is sacred and treated as such, even in the bento box. First, there the plastic lid, the paper around the chopsticks, the compartmentalized items are separated further by foil cups and plastic cut-outs of grass. Individual portions of sauces, wasabi, ginger are carefully placed. Even the food itself is packaged neatly by tofu skin, egg or fishcake.

Next comes the croquette toss: a preceding before the vegetarians can eat the main "course," which is disguised in a layer of breading. "What’s in it today?!," we ask Yoshi. He unconfidently says its fish while looking at the menu. We think it tastes like ham.  Next comes the trading. Warnings to the fish-only people are called out and the rather anxious meat eaters go, “I’ll eat your croquette if you don’t want it.” Mostly it’s the same volunteers and same chiming in, “I’ll take it!.” Then there’s the less predictable things, like the vegetables. The slimy okra is offered up in excessive amounts. People pass their bentos across the table, scooting out the parts they want or don’t want. It’s more polite than it should be, no one wants to be the human equivalent of a garbage disposal. There is one guy, meat eating Marvin, who says yes to extras and is not coy but neither rude about asking. The girls try to be demure, one in particular doesn’t eat fried foods because of her complexion, but partakes in cake and seeks it out regularly. She leaves most of her bento up for grabs.

RATINGS ( 1-5 )

Food 3.5
Service 2
Value 4
Atmosphere 3


KYOTO  |  CLAY  |  FIRE  |   KOBE 

The last dayz :
A tea Ceremony.  Osaka. Orange Street.  Kaiseki. Sake and karaoke.  Airport Express

the rabbit holes of eating

This is a start... defining the how-we-eat question. I keep thinking it's very clear. I say, "I'm interested in the casual eating spectrum." And people go, huh? I needed to define my terms, how do I define the quality or range of what eating is. Where and how it's served makes most sense - the space and service (or lack of). 
My scope is American metropolises. Specific cities on the West coast, East coast, and Chicago to rep the mid-west. These are not random, I've "lived" in all of these cities. (I'm stretching that claim a bit... I haven't lived in Chicago, Boston, or New York but close enough)

Age and class are considerable factors, however I won't be addressing them here. I will politely decline to go down those rabbit holes. Here the focus will be on how to access value in casual eating, not much more and not much less. 

This is also a start to a system I'm developing. The associations across the eating spectrum will be applied like cross hatching. What do I mean? cross hatch is a layering technique I used in printmaking, a patterning effect that can be heavily or lightly overlapped. I mean to use this word because related words don’t quite work. cross hatch is more complex… I realize it’s less clear but that’s my point. I want to mix, match, crisscross, layer, divide, multiply, add, subtract, (I could go on) the components of western-eating. Cross hatch is a technique that comes to mind and emcompasses all the verbage above.

cross hatching / stippling 

cross hatching / stippling 

Why should people care?
Cross hatching the western ways of eating will add value to the lower spectrum of eating. The purpose is to propose how modern mealtimes and mealspaces could be. It will be engaging, cheerful, inviting and satisfying.

thanks to ak47's tumblr

thanks to ak47's tumblr

Synthetic Aesthetics

Christina does super cool work. She has a PhD in bioengineering from Harvard, has worked with Sissel Tolaas (a favorite), is a adjunct professor of Media Design Practices at Art Center College of Design and a million other terrific things.

She's also coming to RISD on Wednesday to talk about her work. Here's the nice poster to tell you all the deats. 

Her cheese project.