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Food Design Lab

Food Design Lab, future anthropology

The Food Design research lab by design is dedicated to the entire eating system. It brings together public and private stakeholders, companies, associations, regional authorities and academics, in the field of food products, as well as presentation devices for all spaces, products and services for food.

Director: Julia Kunkel

Areas of research

The Design Lab’s research activities are grouped into two broad areas:

• Identity and representations based on Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s saying: "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are."
• Studying and modelling prospective trends in the food system: modes of consumption, distribution, production, etc.; food products (industrial, artisanal, events, etc.); devices for food (processing, baking, cooking, presentation, packaging, protection, tableware, household appliances, home automation, etc.); spaces, systems and services for food: catering, sales, distribution, manufacturing, communication, information, enhancement, brands, etc.


• To build a future anthropology rooted in the social, cultural, environmental, technological and economic issues of the food system.
• To defend an approach centred on uses and users aimed at improving and harmonising our relationships in a complex and dynamic world.

Food Design Lab themes structure the MDes Food Design program. Students and teachers are involved in the Lab’s activities in a process of experimentation, evaluation and project improvement.


The research conducted within the Design Lab is based on a global design approach as an as anchor point between social values, health, the environment, technical and economic aspects of organisation and the strategy of the company (or the institution). Products, services, spaces and communications, are discussed as sources of more responsible behaviour, including users in the process of the project. The special nature of the designer’s view, approach and tools are dedicated to responsible innovation.

Method: a project-research approach rooted in economic issues

The Food Design Lab implements creativity and “design thinking” workshops. It includes companies and academic partners and carries out monitoring work on the various research themes. The issues and proposals which emerge from these steps result in design projects based on innovation and the dissemination of knowledge and expertise for the professional and academic world, in an area which is still quite new for design.

Research Projects

Current research projects focus on:

1 - Mutations of the French food model
Ways of eating, rituals around food, tastes, modes of conviviality and commensality have been disrupted by social, cultural and economic developments. Issues arise about the impact in terms of health and well-being, but also about the new representations attached to these concepts. France still enjoys a reputation as a country where people take the time to eat well, which could save it from the consequences of junk food. However, the sector that has been affected the most by these new models is a part of the rather Anglo-Saxon tradition of fast food and quick snacks. For example, few new proposals focus on main courses. How can we take account of life developments, particularly the fact that we spend less and less time on meals, and offer innovations which help preserve the quality of a traditional French diet?

2 - Food eco-innovation with two topics:

  • The protein transition: crucial commitment for the future of humanity, the protein transition also raises questions of representations. How can we make sense of new dishes and new ways to eat?
  • Re-using co-products (waste, etc.) and invasive species: how can we transform the problems and constraints linked to these sectors into opportunities?
    The research is conducted in a partnership as part of the ID4Food regional programme involving 5 institutions: L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, Oniris, the University of Nantes, Angers Graduate School of Agriculture and Audencia.

Jaffine – Cheese ripening tool / personal cheese cellar - Florian Branchet

If you wish to develop a partnership with the Food Design Lab, please contact the Business Strategy department.