Food, Culture and Design


Clara Balmaña, Robert Thompson and Paolo Sustersic

Duration // Schedule

15th to 26th July 2019 (45 hours)  From 9:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
The 18th of July 11.45 a.m. to 2 p.m. / 3.15 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.
The 22nd and the 23rd 3.15 p.m. to 8.15 p.m.




Introduction / Intermediate


840 €. Bold members of Elisava Alumni will enjoy a 15% reduction.

An intensive experience of food and design culture in one of the most vibrant Mediterranean capitals. Barcelona, Spain and the Mediterranean provide the ideal setting to encourage professionals from different fields –design, gastronomy, food science, architecture, communication, and marketing, among others– to experiment with food and understand it from a cultural, sensory and systematic dimension. The Summer School course provides a map of reality and experiences that, under the trinomial of art-architecture-design, establish a direct relationship with the world of eating, gastronomy and food.

"Food Design includes any action that may improve our relationship with food, be it individually or collectively, including the design of food products, materials, experiences, practices, technology, surroundings and systems.” (Food Design Symposium, New York 2015).

Matching theory, practice and on-site visits, the participants will develop a design project which reflects on the cultural, alimentary and sensorial aspects of food in the Mediterranean context. The course is an immersive experience that takes full advantage of the rich food culture of Barcelona, providing sound theoretical knowledge on the essentials of food design as well as an exciting, hands-on creative experience.

  • Understand Food in its relationship with design culture as well as the richness and cultural identity of regions and their inhabitants.
  • As people and professionals, improve our relationship with food in terms of biodiversity and the environment.  
  • Discover the sensory and chemical properties of food.
  • Get to know and experiment with Food as a DIY material in order to understand its tangible properties.
  • Conceptualise and develop a product that is faithful to initial concepts: “Food as a sensory experience” and “Food as a system”

The first part of the course, “Context of Food and its relationship with design”, focuses on understanding the multidimensional meaning of food design as well as the cultural and sensory properties of food as a material conveying complex values in the context of Mediterranean culture. Raw materials used in the food context are multisensory and can communicate meanings which, through design, are properly developed with the aim of transmitting emotions. There are also tactile properties such as texture, temperature or hardness, as well as properties associated with smell, acoustics and vision, like aroma, sound or color. Food carries these intrinsic properties that later can be manipulated during food preparation in order to enhance the diner’s experience and transmit the values of a culture.

The second part of the Summer School course, “Food as a System and a sensory dimension”, seeks to understand food as a whole with regard to its life cycle and semantic value. It sees waste food as an opportunity to encourage the notion of “think global and manufacture local”. Self-produced equipment provides an opportunity to reconsider the types of existing processes in manufacturing and industrialization, with a view to creating new, unique experiences. In areas of study such as “Food as a Sensory Experience” and “Food as a System” the student will conceptualize and develop a product or an experience, using a methodology based on direct experience with the material and the theoretical tools necessary to focus on the areas of study. 

The third part of the course, “Experimenting and designing with food materials”, is the necessary consequence of the specific approach of the course to food design and propose to the students a hands-on experience, consisting in designing a small food experience and/ or food design product conveying the aforementioned cultural and sensory values related to the Mediterranean.

The Summer School course is aimed at all people who have interest in digging deeply in the relationship between alimentation and design from a perspective that unites a reflection about the value of food as a social and cultural manifestation as a sensorial experience that is developed in a workshop format. Specially, the course is thought for designers, architects, gastronomists, responsible of communication and marketing, food scientists and nutritionists.

Module 1: Context of Food and its relationship with design (15 h):

  • Food Design: definition and fields
  • Food in the context of the Mediterranean, Catalonia, Barcelona
  • Design and Food Culture (history, art, architecture, design)
  • Food as emotion and sensory experience

Module 2: Food as a System and a Sensory dimension (15 h):

  • Food as a System
  • Life cycle: waste as raw materials
  • Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Materials as simple tools, sharing similarities with self-production

Module 3: Experimenting and designing with Food Materials (15 h):

  • Introduction to food materials and their properties
  • Experimenting and communicating with food
  • Kitchen experience: from the idea to the food experience
More information

Pedagocical Approach 

Practical and theoretical course based on the idea of “learning by doing” and focusing on the following:

  • Becoming familiar with the local, Mediterranean and Catalan context in order to understand the value of food.
  • Proposing a multidisciplinary approach to food design.
  • Experimenting with and manipulating the material to foster creativity during the initial ideas stage.
  • Finding opportunities to generate value and innovate. 

What we will learn

  • Understanding the multiple dimensions of contemporary food design.
  • Sensory properties and processing techniques of food as a material.
  • Conveying cultural values trough design for food.

Clara Balmaña
Food Designer, BA Product Design (ELISAVA). After being at the studio of the designer Curro Claret, she has been in charge of the direction of Bon Aprofit, an initiative that want to raise awareness about the food impact in people and the environment, starting from a kind and funny approach of the kids and their parents to healthy food. Between 2011 and 2014 she has collaborated with the digital magazine “Ets el que menges”, for which she has created, together with Pau Sabater Viella, the blog and the guide Boníssim Europa. In 2013-14 she has collaborated with the restaurant Bionèctar (rawfood, ecological and km0 alimentation) and she is currently working in Bon Aprofit, she is in charge of the catering, events and workshops that unite design, gastronomy, health, environment, emotions and creativity. 

Robert Thompson
Industrial design engineer and communicator specialized in innovation tactics and materials based research. As product design graduate of ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena CA and graduate in Mechanical Engineering from U.Mass at Amherst, Robert teaches the integration of sciences at ELISAVA college of Industrial Engineering and Design as well as material science at the MATERFAD Material Research Library in Barcelona. 

Paolo Sustersic
Architect (IUAV, Italy), MA (Polytecnic University of Catalonia-UPC, Spain) PhD (Winchester School of Arts, University of Southampton, UK) is full time professor at Elisava since 2006 and head of International programs since 2011. He taught in undergraduate and master courses at ETSAB, Barcelona School of Architecture, between 1997 and 2011. His areas of interest include Design and Food Culture, History of Art and Architecture, Interior and Furniture Design. He collaborates with national and international architecture and design reviews, participates in publications, exhibitions and conferences in Spain and abroad. In November 2018, with Pedro Reissig from Parsons School NY, he has organized the forum “Rethinking-food: des-eating Barcelona. Dialogues around food design”.

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