Food on Mixed Ontology

Fortune cookies

by Sean Kim (MArch II/ MDes ADPD ’22) and Ge Zhou (MArch II  ’21)

Food and architecture share many similarities. They both require various ingredients and are invested in construction methods or techniques. They satisfy basic human needs, while also becoming important cultural products. They are activities through which humanity mediates its relationship to the surrounding context. In short, both fields are concerned with how their design functions, looks, and what a New York Times lifestyle column might think of it.

Since food and architecture are both complicated and messy cultural products, what would happen if architects became chefs? This project begins with generating an avatar who becomes a chef. Then, there is a random-chance game where the chef cracks fortune cookies with a different architectural theory inside each cookie. The resulting fortune asks for a chef who will use smooth surfaces as ingredients, defamiliarization as technique, and a finished meal that is visually ambivalent.

Designing, making, and documenting the four-course meal led us to think about contemporary architecture theory in a less restricted way. Food doesn’t carry the same baggage as a sheet of chipboard and definitely less than a precast concrete panel. Food has afforded us the opportunity to play with these ideas quickly—but sincerely. The best part is: even when you fail, you can eat it!