This isn’t my ‘About’ section, you can find that here. Instead, it’s a bit of a revelation into what kind of things make me tick…

I’ve described myself as ‘a bit of a magpie’ in the past, and it’s fair to say that professionally I’ve done quite a range of things – a music geek in school days, to working in the financial sector for 5 years, furniture, design/woodworking and indie retail both in the craft and the local food sector. So when it came to having to make a decision about what to do for my Master’s dissertation, I didn’t find it easy – there was so much choice –  I was dazzled by the promise of everything!

Additionally, when undertaking an MSc in Gastronomy which basically takes you on a whirlwind tour in scrutinising humanity’s complex relationship to food, within such a broken food system, it becomes important to examine, personally what is my role within this system? How do I ensure that my future work is both relevant to my interests in supporting sustainable and local food, ethically compatible with my learnings from the course, and yet reflects the essence of my character? What is the essence of my character? Who am I? Have I changed every time my career does, or am I just the same, constantly evolving?

So, instead of an existential crisis, I started writing two documents. The first was entitled ‘Who am I?’ and it was pretty much a list of all my likes and dislikes, both professionally and personally, and suddenly it seemed to make sense – there was a pattern to my eclecticism. Woohoo, the research paid off!

The second document was a random list of things I was potentially interested in researching for my dissertation. A completely unrefined and undeveloped longlist, albeit things I had probably stayed up very late looking on the internet at. There was no order to it at all…but there seemed to be three themes emerge, so I grouped those together, and particularly within the Food Design category noticed a fair amount of overlaps.

So here it is…the completely unrefined longlist – purposefully unedited:

Food and Identity

  •   Let’s make tinned fish sexy again!  
  • Gin and Scottish terroir – cynical marketing ploy or a new localised Scottish identity?
  • Food tours in Edinburgh – how is Scottish food represented?
  • Airport food – how this reflects the Scottish identity (compared with others)
  • A life of entertaining – Mum’s meal planner journal

Food & Popular Culture

Design and multi-sensory experience

  • Pleasure, sensuality and food
  • Food, pleasure and eating objects – extension of the body through object, eg Gouté spoon, Dutch design week vessel project – check designer
  • Food and objects – connecting people and place through vessel & food using regional terroir.
  • ‘playing with food’ – re-designing eating experiences for public engagement Food and public engagement programmes that use art/design to examine “complexity of food” with food, eg Centre for Genomic Gastronomy, Cooking Pot programme, work by MarijeVogelzang etc…
  • Really designing sustainable kitchens
  • Trends in design for food and eating at Milan Furniture Fair 2018
  • ‘Wobble’ in foods
  • Left-handed chefs and creativity – is there a link?”

What I chose

Certainly, I hadn’t at all expected to end up almost coming back full circle to art, craft and design, but it was clear that this was a strong influence on my interests and ideas.

After taking my idea to examine ‘food and public engagement programmes that use art/design to examine “complexity of food etc” to my wonderfully blunt, personal academic tutor, I was told, “Your idea is in Space!…it’s too much – it’s a PhD!” Well, of course, this comment made me more determined to do something about food and design, especially as I was becoming ever-more interested in multi-sensory experience design. Suddenly, it clicked – I realised, I was planning a couple of events with a visiting artist in Barcelona who I’d met at Terra Madre Salone De Gusto in 2016. So… I suggested that maybe these events could be utilised as a case study and was told: “Yes, that is fine.” So I started researching and writing the proposal. And as I waited patiently to see who my allocated supervisor would be, I thought my project seemed to be the outlier, possibly the proposal left on the table at the end of the staff meeting! A bit of a gamble…

What I learnt

I learnt to trust my gut and gained a better sense of my own personal identity. That I can be an activist with a small ‘a’, and that one area of Gastronomy is no less ‘worthy’ than another. On reflection, I still think most of the longlist is pretty interesting to me and valid ‘gastronomical’  topics that could benefit from further consideration…although I’m not sure I could study Made in Chelsea for more than a month, then again…never say never! After a ‘Mystery of Mackerel’ group research project tracing a can of mackerel fillets through the food system from pre to post consumption, in which we undertook as part of the MSc Food Systems module, I also realised that ‘making tinned fish sexy again’ was probably not my calling. The food system implications just didn’t feel as ‘sexy’ as the beautifully designed cans you can find from Portugal and Spain.

In summary, I realised it’s ok to be interested in lots of different things. Being described as ‘peripatetic’ by a family member as a teenager doesn’t have to be an insult…times have changed. It’s ok…I’m both interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary. I’m still a designer, despite not making much stuff with hands, on paper or computer. Sometimes everything comes together…it’s ok to be to you. To be playful, take risks and experiment. This is where the magic can happen.