A Utopia is a symbolic better world, an imagined future society (Portolano, 2012, p119).
Visual Communication Design is able to bring food and people to the table
of discussion about themselves, New Zealand’s history, its future and what values or principles should guide New Zealand society in the 21st Century. Food is a great conduit for any community engagement and plays a central role in New Zealand society as a catalyst for communion – anywhere from the family to fale, from the marae to Parliament and beyond.
Utopian Ingredients is a designed potluck dinner party toolkit. By adapting tikanga Maori engagement principles, Western dinner customs and incorporating Pasifika design elements, the unique functional quality of
the toolkit is to augment national identity and investigate what values should shape the future of New Zealand and explore what place it holds in the world.
Currently, a governmental review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements examines the possibility of drafting a single codified constitution, with a preamble that outlines the core tenets and characteristics that guide our society. Using food as a conduit for community engagement, the designed dinner set questions, provokes, engages and guides participants to establish their own preamble concepts by sharing memories, feelings, thoughts, beliefs and desires they hold. As New Zealand’s increasingly diverse population grows, Utopian Ingredients facilitates robust discussion about how and what New Zealand’s constitutional preamble could express both visually and experientially.
The transaction of values can be a messy business – however, civic ompetencies are enhanced when participants are encouraged to ‘play with their food’ and engage with difficult and often emotionally undeclared values, while collaborating to establish multiple enduring constitutional preambles that imaginatively depict participant’s aspirations for New Zealand’s future and identity.