Food and Design for the Functional Age

San Francisco, the place I call home, has been on the cutting edge of all things culinary for decades. However, in reaction to environmental concerns, as well as optimal health components for a healthier living, a new type of “engineered” food is becoming more popular.

Dozens of startups are developing “complete food systems,” which are compromised of optimal nutritional ingredients that could eliminate the need for “real” food.

Interestingly, these pre-packaged powdered diets have gone to the “less is more” in packaging, in an effort to mirror life with an easy choice, that’s simple in theory and modern in design.

“Brands with space-age names like Soylent, Huel, and MANA tap into our collective imagination of a cleaner, smarter future that now feels as reachable as a tall glass of their finely engineered products. [1]

It appears that nearly as much thought has gone into the design of the packaging as the technology involved in creating the food. The audience for these Complete Food systems are busy, and their time needs require a simplified marketing approach, as reflected by the choice of san serif fonts.

“As a population we have made food so delicious that we crave it, get addicted to it, and over consume it. The fact that Complete Food goes against the norm in terms of focusing on the primary purpose of food, e.g. nutrition rather than exclusively taste, has attracted similar founders. I believe the common goal is to strip away the unnecessary additives, flavors, packaging, and preparation. The result is the minimalist aesthetic you see in many of the brands in this space,” said Hearn of Huel.

You can read more about the technology behind the food, the design behind the packaging, and the psychology behind the brands in this Eye on Design article.