Although the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations proposes insect consumption as our future sustainable source of nutrients, the biggest challenge of insect consumption by those not accustomed is overcoming the “yuck factor.” Class of 2015 students Berk Ilhan and Jung Soo Park approached the challenge from a visual and experiential lens—exploring through form and ritual the ennobling of insects as a unique food offering.
The designers chose the honey ant—an ant that stores large amounts of sweet honeydew and nectar in its elastic abdomen (later fed to nest mates).
Calling their series of offerings “Desert to Dessert,” the work serves as a gateway for western cultures by introducing the delicate and precious honey ant through an event called “Dessert of the Night,” and then through an effort to feature the dessert in high-end restaurants. The designers’ goal was to change the perception of insects from being seen as dirty creatures to something desirable—even noble.
In order to emphasize the preciousness of the honey ant and to create initial and media-genic demand, the designers imagine introducing a “new dessert” at a United Nations special event, inviting diplomats and celebrities to taste these delicate, jewel-like insects in front of the world press.
After creating awareness, press and intrigue, the next step of the project is to provide honey ants to gourmet restaurants to be featured on their menu. Here, Berk and Jung designed a pedestal for presenting the dessert. Elevating the honey ant (which can be as large as a grape) from the surface of the table, the design creates new, delicate rituals at the end of a meal.