Mobile Food Collective- Workshop for the 2010 Venice Biennale
The Mobile Food Collective is a project developed within Archeworks, an alternative design school where students work in multidisciplinary teams with nonprofit partners to create design solutions for social and environmental concerns. The MFC is many things: an education/exchange platform for planting, growing and cooking; demonstrations and distribution of seeds, soil, compost, and produce; a space activator within a community event; or the centerpiece of a harvest dinner. Physically, the MFC is a fleet of mobile structures. The larger mobile unit houses a harvest table and flexible storage cabinets that double as seats. At a smaller scale, there are bikes and trailers, equipped to carry the modular storage cabinets. The mobility of the project allows this dialogue to be constant and moveable—we can go where we are needed, bringing different things to different audiences, connecting different groups across a city, or around the world. The MFC brings people to the table (or, literally, brings the table to the people). Along with six other design practices, Archeworks’s Mobile Food Collective were chosen to represent the United States at the 12th Venice Biennale for Architecture titled – Workshopping: An American Model of Architectural Practice and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of American architects and designers as initiators of transdisciplinary partnerships that serve public good though focused research and social engagement. To expand our Biennale presence and communicate the project’s message while in Venice, we teamed up with architecture students from the Italian town of Ascoli Piceno to create a three-day workshop exploring the intersection of culinary heritage and social design. The students were asked to bring seeds from their home town and family recipes. The American students and Italian students described themselves through their “food histories”. The workshop culminated in flash-mob spontaneous interventions that provoked curiosities and conversations. Initially during a busy afternoon on the “Ponte della Paglia”, a major bridge near San Marco piazza in Venice, and later in the crowded and social Venetian piazzas at night. Students engaged in conversation with passersby about food heritage and distributed their seeds.This cultural exchange was invaluable; working with local students sparked many thoughtful discussions with an international crowd on the streets of Venice, with wonderfully rich and varied narratives and food histories. The success of our workshop- design discussions, shared food histories and further cultural exchange – underscored the project’s success and affirmed it’s relevance with an international audience. We learned that what initially resonated with our design team resonates globally- there is something universal about the social aspects of food – growing, cooking, sharing, and eating.