When one is given access to the means of production, she immediately becomes a collaborator understanding the limitations and, more commonly, the undiscovered possibility inherent in a given process. New York based chef and restaurateur, Dan Barber, understood just how little a chef could control if he could only choose from a selection of growers and farmers and produce suppliers.
If the role of the chef in his sphere is to provide food experiences that change the way we think about food, or at least our relationship to it, why would he be satisfied with the given selection? He chose the arduous path of moving against the given systems of production and working with growers to breed vegetables for taste. With Cornell University, New York State’s land-grant school, he developed a red-pepper paste feed for chickens that would produce deep-red yolks with unprecedented flavor.
Seeking to understand and, in some cases, hijacking the production process bridges the gap between the heretofore siloed industries of design and production. It begins to do the work that design has always claimed to do: communicate.
MIT Press’s storied creative director and designer, Muriel Cooper, spent much of her time in the Visual language workshop interested in similar questions of communication. At one point she described her practice as interested in “design and communications for print that integrated the reproduction tools as part of the thinking process and reduced the gap between process and product.”
Closing the feedback loop between manufacturing and vision, marrying the two rather than putting them in competition, enables a product than is informed by process, and a process informed by its product.