On February 12, 2016, Design Observer hosted a symposium on the relationship between design and food. Held in the Los Angeles Theater Center in downtown LA, Taste featured speakers from across the United States and Europe: we discussed the visual evolution of artificial flavor; the historical artistry of mid-century menus; the future of permaculture, the promises of packaging, and the vicissitudes of waste. We looked at marketing tactics and distribution platforms; climate change and culinary excess; new economies of scale, old expressions of culture—and everything in between.


The Morning Session

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand  |  Opening Remarks

Morning Keynote
Dr. Ricardo Salvador
Union of Concerned Scientists
How We Designed for Paradise and Lost Our Way

Frances Anderton
KCRW Host, Dna
In Conversation with
Evan Kleiman
KCRW Host, Good Food

Savinien Caracostea
Architect and Pastry Chef
Edible, Cinematic Architecture

Nadia Berenstein
History of Science PhD Candidate
University of Pennsylvania

Flavor by Design: Making Flavor Additives, 1900-1960  

Nathan Sharp 
In Conversation with
Scott Palmer
Kiva Confections
How Nice Guys Like Us Got Into Selling Drugs

Josh Kun
Annenberg School for Communication, USC
To Live and Dine in LA  

The Afternoon Session

Afternoon Keynote
Mark Bittman
UC Berkeley

Lynda Deakin
How can design help us create a better food future?

Alissa Walker
In Conversation with
Jessica Koslow
Chef, Sqirl

Afternoon Tasting Menu
Presented by MOLD
Erika Katrina Barbosa, Elaine Cheung, Nan Tsai, + Josh Bookman, forkCHESTRA
Julie Plevin + Lucy Knops, Critter Bitters
Edward Silva + Lorena Galvan, Henlight

Jennifer Boutin Farah
Sprouts IO
Future of the Connected Kitchen
In Conversation with LinYee Yuan, MOLD

Edward Silva
Thought for Food

Ron Finley
Artist, Designer, Gangsta Gardener  
Growing a garden: How I learned to fuck the system and you can too.

Mike Errico

Closing Remarks


December 2018: Edited by Jessica Helfand and Michael Bierut, Culture is Not Always Popular: Fifteen Years of Design Observer will be out in early December from MIT Press. Buy the book here. See the video here.

November 2018: The Design of Business | The Business of Design conference will be held on November 2 and 3 at Yale School of Management.

September 2018: Face Value, Cooper Hewitt’s entry into the 2018 London Design Biennale, is named one of the four medalists.

July 2018: Jessica Helfand and Allison Arieff host a Next Stage event at Google on the ethics of design.

June 2018: Jessica Helfand is one of three artists chosen to participate in Face Value, the US entry into the London Design Biennale for 2018.

May 2018: Jessica Helfand hosts The Next Stage at The Mercantile Library in Cincinnati and The American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

May 2018: Jessica Helfand debuts The Next Stage at Continuum in Boston.

March 2018: Jessica Helfand is keynote speaker for the In Pursuit of Luxury Conference, Cape Town, South Africa.