Reading the Seaweed (and Egg Shapes)

Dr. Morgaine Gaye connects the future of fashion and food

Dr. Morgaine Gaye (photo by Melanie Haupt)

Dr. Morgaine Gaye calls herself a “food futurologist,” an alchemical discipline that looks at the social, anthropological, aesthetic, and economic indicators of food to predict future trends in the food space.

In a March 11 SXSW presentation, she connected the dots between food and fashion, arguing that the same themes and trends manifest in both spaces.

Gaye broke her predictions into trend “silos.” In one, she explained that we would be putting “eco” back in “economy,” claiming that “waste is wealth,” and that we will be searching for ways to use waste, making products with a purpose. This is manifested in bringing the outside in, with countertop growing kits of herbs and mushrooms. Our dining spaces will reflect the outside world, with mossy tablescapes and themes of rocks and stones. Products will come in edible or dissolvable packages instead of those that can be recycled or composted. An emphasis on imperfection will reveal itself in jagged shapes and visible mending.

The second trend silo centers on air. “Air will be big business,” Gaye said. This will manifest in things like maximalism and whimsy and strange hybrids, like 3D printed sushi, moon cheese, and air protein. Fashion will reflect a hybrid of organic and synthetic, natural and technological, like ether diamonds.

Gaye’s third silo centered on escapism. Experiences will trump products, Gaye speculated, with an emphasis on nocturnal rituals. We’ll see lots of luminescence, mirrors, playing with light, and shifting perceptions. We’ll see mushrooms, seaweed, and dark walls and spaces, as well as an emphasis on fragility, represented by egg shapes.

The final trend silo was that of disruption. We will see an emphasis on comfort over competition, kindness as the new commodity, and declining democracy. She pointed out that we will be forced to ask ourselves who we are and what we value if robots take over the menial jobs (a particularly poignant observation in the wake of Arkansas’ repeal of child labor protections). While we were all distracted by COVID, she pointed out, both the UK and US governments passed laws that affect the safety and quality of our food.

Gaye’s presentation included a slideshow with lots of compelling images, but it was difficult to hook them onto any concept other than that of a really cool Pinterest board. But she closed with some very powerful points, namely that when you affect the food culture, nothing escapes. The changes are felt across all culture.

From Fashion To Fork: The Future of Food 2028

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Sat 11, 4pm, Austin Marriott Downtown

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