Apr 19, 2011

This Beats McDonald's

Courtney Kaplan's picture
Courtney Kaplan
Principal, Program Planning

As we talk about Experience Strategy, how can Hot Studio take information design thinking off a laptop screen and spread it through the world in retail spaces, conferences, or parties? Pop-up storefronts seem like a great option to wade into the waters of designing a space that is fairly inexpensive, relies heavily on visual design, and could be tested with users and updated easily. And the location could also be easily changed.

How do we incorporate relevant, interesting information into the things people interact with every day? The nature of design is to make the world more engaging, interesting and beautiful.

When I found this post on Ziba Trends, and thought it was a pretty interesting way to cross information design… with lunch. Conflict Kitchen was opened in Pittsburg by a group of artists. It is not a pop-up store, but uses design in an interesting way to educate and provide a forum for discussion. Conversations lead to understanding (or more conversations) about our increasingly complicated and connected world.

Hey, ya gotta eat.

A few months ago artists John Peña, Jon Rubin, and Dawn Weleski opened Conflict Kitchen, a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries that the United States is in conflict with. Nowadays the Iranian food is served at the counter. More precisely, the kubideh, a dish made of grilled ground meat in freshly baked barbari bread with onion, mint, and basil. The food is wrapped in a paper covered with facts about Iran, its government, culture and the way the U.S. perceives it. Every four months, a new country takes center stage. For each iteration of Conflict Kitchen, events, performances, and discussion will explore further the culture, politics, and issues at stake.

Conflict Kitchen has initially drawn people because of the striking visual of the facade. We've had quite a few people stop their cars in the middle of the street, get out, and inquire "What is this?" Lots of Iranians have immediately read the Farsi on the sign and wonder if we really serve kubideh. The general mission, one could say of both eateries, is to stimulate public dialogue.

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