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Wex film shows design aspects of food

Courtesy of MCT

“Food Design” is a documentary that highlights consumer relationships with food and how these bonds lead to product development. It is scheduled to show at the Wexner Center for the Arts tonight.

The film describes all of the elements of foods, and why they are presented to consumers in certain shapes, sizes and textures.

One portion of the film focuses on sensory testing and evaluation, which is when companies present products or ideas to customers and get feedback about it.

Sometimes these tests are in the form of focus words that the customer must choose from, other times it’s taste testing. The film places emphasis on visual sensory testing, which involves consumers viewing pictures of foods, and then choosing which image they prefer.

“It’s not as good as putting a whole, real dish in front of people, but it is statistically valid as an indicator of preference,” Mark Thomas said. Thomas is a consultant for M.D.T. Ltd., which is a company that deals with concept development of food products, menus and marketing. He is also an adjunct teacher at the Culinary Institute of America and the University of Georgia.

“It can help narrow down the number of new product ideas that a company wants to invest in, and it can help refine those ideas as they get further down the developmental process,” Thomas said.

In contrast, during part of the documentary, some visual tests take place in the beginning of product development. In the example, the flavors of the foods have yet to be considered, and the company is acting mostly on picture response.

Other parts of the documentary showcase “how form, color, smell, consistency, the sounds made during eating, manufacturing technique, history and stories influence food design,” according to the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam website.

The process of food design is similar to that of any type of design, said Paul Nini, a professor in Ohio State’s Department of Design.

“Designers interact with users and audience members quite a bit to determine their needs, and to provide communications, products and spaces that will be of benefit to them,” Nini said.

As for differences, he said he felt this documentary showed “marketing research meant to persuade consumers.” Visual communication design itself is not necessarily used as a business method, he said.

The documentary “Tar Creek” will be played prior to “Food Design;” the double feature starts at 7 p.m.

You get “two films for the price of one,” said Tim Fulton, the Wexner Center media coordinator.

Fulton said these films are part of the series “Field & Screen 2011: Films about our Food and Environment.” This is the second year for the series.

Tickets can be purchased online through the Wexner Center website or directly through the ticket office. It is $5 for students to attend and $7 for the general public.

 

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