For Ayako Suwa, food is the one and only medium of her art: give her a word, a color or a brand, and she will come up with a palatable concept around their taste. From the Tokyo based studio that she runs under the name Food Creation, she has developed edible installations for galleries, magazines and luxury brands from Pop and Numerò to Gucci and Veuve Cliquot.
FDL caught up with her in order to discover the role of food in an artist’s world.
What does the term "food design" mean to you?
There are actually various food designers and food artists who have many different theories around food. If I have to use the word "design", then I guess that my artwork could be described as the "design of senses", or even better the "design of emotions" and the "design of desires".
How did you first get artistically involved with the food world?
I could say that it started as a game when I was still a child: when I was five, I opened a restaurant where the dishes where made by pollens, seeds and dead insects. Then after my graduation from college in 2008, I opened my first Guerilla Restaurant as part of an exhibition that I did to a contemporary museum, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. This was my first time to serve what I call "sensuous food” or “emotional taste" in a gallery.
Is it more exciting to develop a project for oneself or for a brand?
Each project involves a different excitement. In either case, for me the most important thing is to discover new things every time. As long as I experience a scene, which I have never experienced before, I’m really happy with it. How has your work evolved with time? At the beginning I would create only a mouthful of food with a concept but soon after, I started to think and compose situations where food is tasted. In other words, I like to think of taste as a whole experience including space and time. I usually create a whole situation surrounding the food. I think I create memories and senses for the people who taste my food.
What kind of people react better to curious food experiments or experiences?
People who are honest about their desire and who are not afraid of evolution. People who are interested to and aspect of themselves that they have never seen.
Which do you think to be the differences between Europe and Asia in the way people perceive food? There are many different ways in which people perceive food in accordance with their country, culture and ethics. Each way is distinctive and equally interesting; I am inspired by the reactions that I see everywhere I go, but it’s quite difficult to compare them in a lump. Though I think that France in Europe and Japan in Asia are similar in that people have sensory and emotional sensitivity.
Which is your greatest font of inspiration? Human desire and curiosity, senses and emotions that follow them them and the reactions caused by them. For instance, the other day I first drank the venom and blood of snake at the night market in Taiwan. What stimulated me the most was not the tasting, but curiosity.
What project are you working on at the moment? Many! A Guerilla Restaurant, a project for the opening party of a hotel, a food performance for a brand, a collaboration with a chef and a collaboration with a bar. I cannot tell more, but the details will be announced very soon!