Food for Thought


  • Type: Design challenge
  • Goal: Turn the concept Food for Though into reality during a 10-day workshop at Tsinghua University, Beijing.
  • Competencies: DRP | TR | CA | BE

Key learning points

1. Workshops from several experts.
2. Working out a concept and realizing it in 10 days.
3. Interacting with people from different countries, disciplines and perspectives.


Summary report


Our team of 3 Industrial Design master students was one of the 11 finalists from over the globe for the Tsinghua-Santander World Challenge, an international interdisciplinary innovation competition. We were invited for a 10-day workshop to turn our concept Food for Thought into reality. Our concept aims at making people aware of their carbon footprint by visualizing the distance their groceries have to travel and the level of carbon dioxide the production creates. As the design is physically in your home environment it is easy to perceive when going out for groceries. The colors of the design indicate the level of carbon dioxide you create with your purchases and the size of the rings indicate how far the product had to travel to get to your country. Additionally you can keep track of your progress in an application which provides detailed information on the food you consumed. Here you can also share and compare with a community of users with which we together can make small steps to a more sustainable society.


Throughout the program there were sessions to facilitate us in developing our concept further, for example on design thinking, creating the user experience, developing open source technology and making a business model. Although many of these topics were already familiar to me, it was interesting how the speakers from several companies provided different perspectives and approaches on these known topics.

Throughout the program we had to cope with many unexpected changes in terms of available materials and facilities, which asked for us to adapt our plans multiple times and be flexible throughout the process. However, in the end we were able to finish a working prototype demonstrating our concept and a corresponding final presentation.

It was really fun and interesting to meet the other teams with students from different countries, disciplines and with different perspectives. Therefore, I could not only learn from our own process, but also observe how the other teams developed their concepts over the course of 10 days. Moreover, we could exchange expertise and experiences among the teams which was insightful and beneficial in developing the concepts.

The idea of Food for Thought sparked my interest to design for sustainability, which inspired me to pursue with this topic in the Social Psychology elective, to better understand why people don’t engage in environmental-friendly behavior. Eventually this provided the starting point for my Final Master Project as well.