The inner workings of our research studio

February 13, 2011 | Eric Benson  |  Share

Eric Benson presented the following talk on February 10, 2011 at the College Art Association Conference in New York City, as part of CAA's 99th annual conference.

The imagery and politics used to sell food from the supermarket to the farmer’s market vary but share an important similarity: they were designed. Whether it's a hastily scribbled chalkboard announcing the prices of fresh local arugula and sweet corn, or a plastic package of bacon decorated with an illustration of a nostalgic red barn and silo rising from a field of wheat, the visual language of our food is consistently affecting our lifestyle, politics, and healthy eating habits.

It’s difficult to separate the designer from this discussion, as not only are we the consumers of our own creations but we also aid in the distribution of the message to eat something because “it’s natural,” “it regulates your digestive track,” “it's kid approved,” or “free of toxic pesticides.” Both the USDA Organic logo and McDonald's golden arches conjure up these different connections to hunger, health and ethics but, again, are always intrinsically tied to the work and power of the designer.

Download the PDF presentation (6.6 mb PDF) >