Industrial Design in the Food Industry

Hello, I’m Fig.

I’ve lurked here for awhile now but only recently joined.
With such a vast array of special interest areas on the forum,
I wondered if any members had a special interest in food culture.
I have a sneaking suspicion this might be my niche in future.
At present I’m neither an ID student or professional.
Nonetheless I’d appreciate the feedback.

Thank you for your replies.

Hey Fig,

yes, there have been several topics about food in the past on these forums.
The nice thing is that everybody can relate to this and discussions are usually very vivid.

I actually just graduated out of my masters and am now getting my own little studio of the ground, focusing specifically on the combination of culinary arts and product design as I have a BFA in Culinary Arts and a MFA in ID.
I have been shopping around my services in the last weeks and the reception has been very good so far. More and more design firms are looking for multi-disciplinary teams so if this in an avenue you want to take, I can certainly encourage this.

In any case, I believe that it is important to understand the nitty-gritty of the different disciplines you are combining into a new set of skills. For me it was important to actually go through a BFA in ID after my bachelors degree in Culinary Arts to learn it from the bottom up.
Then the two years during my Masters in ID was the time to actually combine the two BFA studies into something new.
It is a long road, but it really gives you the confidence and understanding you need to be a double edged sword where both sides are equally sharp.

You need to be more specific. Are you talking kitchen housewares, utensils, or food packaging? I sense a strong resurgence in the utensils/tools market, every week there is a new brand or chef attaching his or her name to a new line.

Oxo started it 20 years ago and now there are a dozen companies competing for shelf space at the store; KitchenAid, Zyliss, Calphalon, Cuisinart, even Pyrex is now getting into the utensils market.

And then you have the celebrity chefs “creating” their own product lines, Rachael Ray, Mario Batali… Makes me wonder how many more potato peelers the market can sustain. :frowning:

You’ve given me a lot to think about.
I’ve long been considering a similar trajectory.
Though I’m feeling rather old so I don’t know about two ID degrees.
I wonder if that would be necessary for me or even economically feasible.
If only I could have been grandfathered into a Swedish university.

I’m not too concerned with celebrity chefs and their potato peelers.
There’s some beautiful objects being made. Take NYC based Pinch.
I wanted general answers as an open starting point for discussion.
There might be others reading who are interested in other subcategories.
There are design considerations for how food is produced, transported, assembled, presented and sensed.

When I worked at Gerber we were once asked to redesign the Teething Biscuit to prevent it creating sharp edges when pieces broke off. We did it.

Food for thought :slight_smile:

The pasta designed by Giugiaro comes to mind.

Ah the baby food market. Interesting.
I hadn’t given that demographic enough thought.

Nice link. Pasta is a fantastic example.
Its geometry and relationship to its sauce.

There’s a designer called Luki Huber who did lots of stuff with Ferran Adria, both for retail and also for his ‘taller’ to work out the molecular gastronomy stuff. I’ve only found out bits and pieces about his work in English, the best being an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” show. Lots of youtube on him if you speak Spanish.

Check out these guys:

They are approaching food in a very analytical scientific way. They analyses tastes and figure out which ones would fit with each other. It’s called food-pairing and it’s a part of molecular gastronomy. They have some very weird but nice combinations.
They once fed me chocolate-bonbons with anchovy. I loved it until I found out what was inside :wink:

To me this is industrial design. Trying new things with the technology that is given to us.

Check out these guys:

Wow, thanks for sharing that. Great work.

Hi Fig,

I work Kraft Foods as an Industrial Designer for chocolate globally [Cadbury, Milka, Toblerone,]. At the moment it really is a niche role but the principals of ID are still applicable. Certainly in the future there is room for product/industrial design within the food industry.

My work ranges from mould design, generating new product concepts and new technologies and processes. There is also some involvement in packaging design but the focus of my work is on the edible product.
It can be a very frustrating job at times but on the other hand there are a lot of opportunities for innovation and also to learn from other industries.

I still work as a typical designer, using CAD programs, rendering software, photoshop, rapid prototyping etc… the only difference is when our prototypes are finished we can eat them : )

Check out future technologies within the chocolate industry…

Hi Designerboi
I’m looking for a job as a designer in the food industry.
Can you tell me how you’ve reached this job?


Welcome to the boards. I am an ID manager working at Mars Chocolate US.

Fig - As mentioned above there is quite a bit of design in the confection world. I am responsible for managing the design of the moulds, but seasonal and everyday moulds, but also the evaluation of the consumer and making sure that the product is delivering the proper sensorial experience. This includes the mould, pack, and every other touch point that might be relevant.

We still do A LOT of sketching. then moving to CAD and prototyping.


MMmmmm chocolate CAD

This topic reminds me of this gravitytank video. They use their research to reposition a type of product from the bottom-up. In this case, food seasonings. I can’t say that I’ve seen this concept taking off, but I think it’s an interesting market gap.


Check out Crucial Detail in Chicago,

A lot of the work concentrates on tableware specifically designed to enhance dining experiences.

He also just kickstarted this awesome infuser project.

Hi Fig,

By the thread details, you’re interested in more about how process/trasportation/vegetation of food? I’m not sure how much I may be resourceful but here it goes:

I work at a kitchenware company developing gadgets like potato peeler (I’m overwhelmed by how many there are as well), can openers, choppers, slicers, dicers, accessories etc…basically everything you have in your kitchen drawers and cabinet minus pots and pans. We do hands on testing from the gecko with food, making sure we first understand the recipe, process, reservations, condition, size, differences in size by where they’re from, how ripe certain produces are, etc… really boils down to lists and lists of spec sheet with research data. Take that information, generate bunch of diver concepts based on unique/easier interaction, along with creating story boards of how this product may be used or is of value compared to others in the market. More testing happens, sometimes with outside consumer test groups, refine, CAD, manufacture. FDA regulation are strictly applied, and material selection is limited, and heat temp are considered for few products that might be microwaved or stove top safe. There’s not a week that goes by without needing to run to the grocery store to pick-up bunch of produces in bulks for testing, or left-over food in the kitchen that are up for grabs.

Ambiente houseware show in Frankfurt, IHA in Chicago are two major annual trade shows that all big players in kitchenware exhibit.

Being aware of food culture + trend really helps before jumping into this field. I myself am an immigrant from Asia and there were some big hurdles to overcome when designing products that I personally never used in my life or even heard of!

I am the only ID’er at Dart container, which just bought Solo this past year (which makes us 2nd largest in the world I believe) we make single serve food industry containers. ( don’t send me hate mail, the “foam” is being replaced) I work in the new product development part of engineering, creating product concepts, a lot of quote support and run the 3D printing/one off thermoforming of NPD. I am the only one sketching the concepts, researching them, finding processes that fit the concepts, creating the presentations/mockups and presenting them to management. I don’t directly deal with food, but I have been educating the company that the food is what we are really selling, so the packaging needs to enhance the experience. It is a very tough sell to a company that has been doing things the same way for years and years. So I might be outside of what you are looking for but it is a challenge.

BTW- I recieved my ID BFA when I was 38 years old, don’t worry about the age, it is what you do that gets you hired.

It is a very tough sell to a company that has been doing things the same way for years and years.

Not really too hard to understand… … :wink:

Kinneir Dufort, where I work, does a lot of work in candy products as well…

lots of chocolate bunnies, bars, associated products, prototyping, low volume molds, etc… it’s pretty neat to see our modeler working on something you can eat a few months later!

We’ve also advised foreign packaging clients on better ways to present their products in Europe, including the changes to color, names, and shapes of the food itself. Some edible products have cultural ties and work well in one country but not in another… with ethno, innovation, and design work we’ve been able to advise clients what they can do for better chances when they launch