I am often asked ‘why food design’? Having graduated from the National College of Art and Design (Dublin) with an honours degree in Visual Communications (graphic design), I proceeded to work in a well-established and highly-respected Dublin design studio for two years. One day, while reading an article on a design website, I stumbled across another article all about food design, and how a college in Milan offers a masters in the very subject. I believe it was this article that started it all. Never before had I heard the term ‘food design’. Those two words, my two life’s passions, side-by-side. This article very much set the wheels in motion. I had recently noticed that I was spending so much of my free time buying food, cooking it, baking it, styling it, photographing it, Instagramming it. See below example; I came across Pantone cookies on Pinterest and then stayed up into the small hours one night recreating them, to bring to my designer colleagues!
The timing was good for stumbling across this new niche area called ‘Food Design’ as it was summertime and masters courses would be starting in the Autumn. I researched every course I could find in the realm of Food Design. I ruled out all of the other courses one-by-one (“too expensive,” “too businessy,” “too far away”) until I was left with one course, in Brussels that fitted the bill. I put all of my energy and ambition into my application for it. I was working full time and over the course of a week stayed up very very late each night collating my work and perfecting my portfolio until I felt that I was putting my best foot forward. Below is a sample of the work I included, from my degree show project which focused on making healthy food more accessible, appealing and achievable for third-level students.
I thoroughly enjoyed working on that project. I was doing something I was immensely passionate about and I was getting some great feedback from people who were following my campaign on Instagram and actually making the food I was posting. It gave the project meaning. Actually having a positive impact on people’s lives (however minor it may be) felt fantastic.
After I finished college I kept the Instagram account running, posting whatever I was eating. People were forever asking me why I would bother continuing it, as college was finished, and my response would be “well I eat every day anyway, so it doesn’t take much effort to keep it going.” Perhaps a more honest response would have been that I simply love taking photos of my food to share online! On many a Saturday morning I’d take my time making myself something delicious for brunch, then proceed to carefully choose what plate to put it on, what garnishes to use and how to assemble the finished product to make it look as appetising as possible. I’d often end up having to microwave my food before eating it as I’d have spent so much time styling it and photographing it that it would have gone cold by the time I was ready to eat it!
I continued with this carry on, getting more elaborate as I got more followers on Instagram, more ideas, and more exotic ingredients to play with. I find food and ingredients very inspiring and very exciting. If I visit a restaurant and come across a flavour pairing I haven’t encountered before, I’ll often try and echo that in something homemade. I can while away hours in specialist food stores, not to mention spending small fortunes on a food shop. There you have it, simply put food is a passion and design is both a passion and my career thus far so a masters course in Food Design makes sense to me. And the Académie Royale des Beaux Arts, Brussels seems an ideal place for it.