In Summary

  • Challenging the position of design and advertising in the food industry
  • Creating socially responsible design for food products and services
  • Countering the role of food industry as a machine of consumption

Based in Swinburne’s Department of Communication and Digital Media Design, Dr Oliver Vodeb develops research in socially responsible design. Dr Vodeb is also the Creative Director of Memefest, and Principal Editor and Curator of the Memefest Festival of Socially Responsive Communication, Design and Art.

His book Food Democracy, Critical Lessons in Food, Communication, Design and Art was released earlier this year. For Dr Vodeb design is 'inter/extradisciplinary'. He investigates what he calls “urgent and burning issues in times of radical uncertainty and environmental degradation”.

Dr Oliver Vodeb, Swinburne Department of Communication and Digital Media DesignDr Oliver Vodeb

In Food Democracy, Dr Vodeb looks at food systems defined by production, distribution, consumption and representation. He asks how we can think and create socially responsive design, communication and art that counters the role of the food industry as a machine of consumption.

“Food systems are largely taken over by corporations and operate at the expense of people and our natural environment,” says Dr Vodeb.

His book develops a radical critique and proposes alternative socially responsive models and strategies for design theory and practice.

The book is relevant to academics and professionals in design, advertising and related professions. It also includes unique cooking recipes, to help readers understand the arguments in the book on a deeper level.

spread from Food Democracy, Critical Lessons in Food, Communication, Design and Art by Oliver Vodeb

“My previous book discussed debt as an instrument for social control and explored the role of design in this. The research we have done on debt with the Memefest network in previous years led us to food,” Dr Vodeb explains.

“Food is one of the most fundamental aspects defining our human condition. While there is an emerging sub-discipline of food design, inter/extradisciplinary research into design’s relation to food is missing,” he says.

Dr Vodeb says the fact that design contributes so much to the state of our food ecologies shows it has a role as a technology in ‘defuturing’. A subject discussed in the book.

“Our research addresses design issues largely from the perspective of communication. The three-stage methodology and research culture, developed at Memefest, produces unique research insights and impacts,” Dr Vodeb says.

spread from Food Democracy, Critical Lessons in Food, Communication, Design and Art by Oliver Vodeb

The book is the result of five years of work and involved more than 200 people from 27 countries.

Food Democracy, Critical Lessons in Food, Communication, Design and Art, edited, curated and written by Dr Vodeb, is published by Intellect Books. Memefest.org features a preview.

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