Need a surefire way to get kids interested in something? Make sure food is involved. There are few things that get children more excited than food – talking about it, playing with it, and, most of all, eating it. In fairness, there are few things that get adults more excited, either, but children are the focus of the Chil-Dish Project, an initiative developed by designers Kristos Mavrostomos and Anna van der Leij to get kids thinking about 3D printing, design and gourmet cooking. The project was implemented at Helsinki Design Week, which took place in September 2015. The challenge issued to the young attendees: design a dish for your favorite dish.
Over 300 children, ranging in age from 1 to 16, participated in the project, sketching out colorful drawings of plates, bowls, cups and pots customized for their young designers’ favorite foods and drinks. Mavrostomos and van der Leij would choose ten winners, based on creativity as well as 3D printability, as that was one of the keys to the contest – all winning designs would then be 3D modeled and printed, with help from Shapeways.
Choosing the winners was a difficult task, but the ten selected from the large pool of designs are a nice mix of creative, utilitarian vessels for ice cream, tea, pasta and other kid-favorite foods and beverages. There’s a teapot shaped like a house, and a two-handled coffee/hot chocolate mug for easy handling. There are geometric plates and cups, and, my personal favorite, a multi-level spaghetti dish featuring two connected bowls – one for the pasta, one for the sauce.
The winning entries were turned into 3D models, which were then sent to Shapeways, who printed them in their recently introduced, food safe porcelain material. The project didn’t end there, however. The dish designs were only one half of the challenge; the other half was the food that inspired those designs. Only bringing one half of the project to life seemed incomplete, so the Chil-Dish Project enlisted the help of Restaurant OLO, an award-winning eatery named the best restaurant in Finland in 2015. Unlike the 3D printing part of the project, the kids got to be active participants as Restaurant OLO’s chefs took them, step by step, through the process of creating their dream meals – from visiting markets to purchase ingredients to cooking and finally artfully plating the food in its 3D printed receptacles.
It was a great opportunity for the children to try on the roles of five-star chefs as well as artists, as they carefully arranged their gourmet food creations on their colorful porcelain dishes. As you can clearly see in the video below, it was a thrilling experience for the kids – unsurprisingly, as chefs have taken on the status of movie stars in our current culture. More than one future celebrity chef may have gotten an early start to fame and fortune through this project. Discuss in the 3D Printed Food Dishes forum over at 3DPB.com.