Antien Zuidberg started her professorship 'Design methods in Food' at HAS University of Applied Sciences 3 years ago. During this period she researched all kinds of design methods in the field of valuable food innovations that move consumers towards sustainable and healthy eating. Next year, she and her research group will shift their focus to practical research on behavioral change towards a healthy and sustainable food choice, a choice that supports food transitions.
Design methods are methods based on design thinking: a way of solving complex problems in which people and their needs are central. Design thinking always starts with qualitative small-scale research among the target group. This research provides insight into human behavior. On this basis, ideas are conceived which are immediately tested with the target group. Only then are the actual designs made with a high degree of effectiveness as a result. Antien Zuidberg has frequently applied design thinking in recent years to the question of how to move consumers towards healthy and sustainable food choices.
Methods such as the Seduction Model, the Food Innovation Model and Systems Thinking provide clear insights into the wishes and needs, but also the way of thinking of consumers when it comes to making food choices. An example of this is the project Development of Seduction Model in which the lectorate conducted research into how the seduction model can help to successfully market healthy and/or sustainable concepts.
In the last year of this professorship Antien and her circle of experts will shift their focus to the application of design methods for food transitions. Design methods appear to be ideally suited to address the challenges facing the agri-food sector. "I have discovered that issues related to food transitions are often about how we can guide human behavior, or rather, how we can seduce people," Antien explains. "This is not only about the food choices consumers make in their daily lives, but also about the choice behavior of stakeholders throughout the agri-food chain. The success of the transition that the agrofood sector is facing stands or falls with the choices that stakeholders make. Only by making the right choices can we initiate change. That is why I want to encourage the use of design methods in transition issues in order to speed up food transitions."
Toolbox design methods
Antien continues: "There are a lot of suitable design methods available that you can use for issues surrounding the food transition, but an overview is lacking. In the coming year, the research group wants to develop a toolbox in which various design methods will find their place. This toolbox will help students and later hopefully also companies to choose the best method for their problem and will provide tools to get started with such a method. For their graduation, 2 Food Innovation students are currently researching the needs of students in this area: what would such a toolbox ideally look like, which methods should have a place in the toolbox and what information is needed. The next step is the actual development of the toolbox."
In addition to the toolbox, the professorship is also focusing on other activities related to design methods and the food transition. Recently, HAS University of Applied Sciences launched the first Brabant Hbo Food Waste Challenge on the initiative of Antien's lectorate. One of the components of this challenge is a series of 4 masterclasses that will focus on the latest state of affairs regarding food waste and a number of different design methods that can help to create an overview and also to come up with innovative and above all working solutions.
Rethinking and Rearranging
The Design methods in Food lectureship does not, in principle, develop new methods. "There are so many models available that this usually does not add value. What we do do is reframe, combine and explain existing methods. We rethink, rearrange and encourage students to do the same. We also involve other professorships in the process. A lot of cross-fertilization takes place. In this way, together we can develop more and more knowledge about reliable design research and the best methods to use for this.