Transforming Food Systems by Design | UN Food Systems Pre Summit Presentation

On the opening evening of this weeks UN Food Systems Pre-Summit, Netherlands Food Partnership hosted an affiliate session in which the Transforming Food Systems by Design project was presented and showcased. Commissioned through Netherlands Food Partnership and delivered in collaboration with Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) and MANN Studio, this unique project applies the medium of design to innovate, re-frame, speculate and interpret SDG2: Zero Hunger.

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DAE Creative Director Joseph Grima opened the session by stating that in order to preserve the relevance of design, we have to adapt to the new reality and engage with complex problems like zero hunger. Food systems professionals from DSM, CGIAR and Koppert Biological Systems reflected on the presentation of the best projects and the relevance for their work. ‘Some of the projects had a shocking effect on me, they helped me to see the urgency and the fragmented nature of the problems that we are facing’, said Namukolo Covic, senior researcher at CGIAR.

MANN Design Founder Stephan Petermann was then given the floor to introduce the background story, before presenting details of a selection of projects which were curated and developed by more than 100 of DAE's cohort of Masters students. To provide a flavour of the concepts created by the students, we've provided a three examples below for your perusal.


Monocultures are covering much of the world's arable land and their conventional cultivation poses a threat to biodiversity and ultimately food security. Corn is one of the most widely grown crops in the global system, dominated by a variety called Yellow Dent #2. Highly bred and modified, the crop is predominantly grown from non-food products and their extraction-driven economic system not only consumes an enormous amount of resources, but is also inefficient at feeding people. Based on traditional knowledge, the Cornstitution recognises corn as personhood and gives them its own rights under the law. It reimagines the mutual relationship between corn and human beings and, with its 10 amendments, establishes a way of living with the plant that no longer relies on exploitation and vulnerable monocultures, but celebrates the variations of corn. The Cornstitution opens up a new future - a respectful and harmonious relationship with corn that embraces and nurtures its biodiverse environments and their inhabitants.

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The Bitterballen Collective: When you picture hunger, what do you see?

The Bitterballen Collective invites groups of artists, designers and activists to expand the narrative of what hunger is, exposing the vulnerability of their self-consciousness as designers. The students wanted to highlight the surrealism of design, positioned within the unfathomable systemic problems of hunger. What is hunger when none of the designers involved had honestly experienced it. As art of the curation a video shows images of how the West receives hunger. These images reveal the complex system of hunger diluted to a single narrative of browns and greens, dissolving a person's identity into an anonymous photo opportunity using food as a commodity. The singular view of hunger. This singular view of hunger is what most DAE students have been surrounded by for most of their lives.

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Understanding of world hunger, is that fighting the phenomenon uniquely on a global scale has reached its limits and even worsened the existing situation. The students created an instagram account to act as their resources as individuals and as designers, to inform about this power of consumers in a playful manner.

People.Food.Systems Instagram
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More background

Transforming Food Systems by Design is a project that has been in the making since 2020, involving students from a broad spectrum of international backgrounds and a wide variety of positions within the DAE's design practices, thus guaranteeing a transdisciplinary and artistic research approach.

You can read more about the background story to this project here

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