Interaction Design & Food Design

In the Reception theory, it is suggested that the Literary/Artistic experience exists in the process of creating meaning through the interaction between the text/work of art and the reader/spectator (JAUSS, 1982)7. Robert HOLUB (1984)7 even mentions that the Reception theory is a creative process that occurs during reading and that its definition lies in the way the reader and text interact. It is this concept of interaction that we are interested in addressing in the context of the exhibition that we are presenting in the third moment of the interdisciplinary project “Receiving/Perceiving English Literature”.7
In an approach with three different angles but from the perspective of the same discipline, Design, it was proposed to the students of the institutions involved (FAUL, ESHTE, UBI) to do the reception/interpretation of the collection The Bloody Chamber (1979) by Angela Carter (1940-1992), framed in the curricular programs previously defined by the structure of the different courses.

In the exhibition Designing Perspectives, Challenging Boundaries we find the result of three different perspectives: Product Design (FAUL), Interaction Design (UBI) and Food Design (ESHTE).


This multiplicity does not facilitate a definition of Design as a discipline of projecting and scientific practice. But it gives us an idea of its dimension, especially when we refer to a literary work. Whereas in the Reception theory one looks at Literature from the viewpoint of the reader as a dialectical process of production (JAUSS, 1982), in Design the perspective focuses on the user and the process of interaction with the artifact (object). This relationship had already been explored in the first moment, “Receiving / Perceiving William Blake”, from a communication perspective.

In Interaction Design and in order to follow the program proposed by the curricular structure of the course, students should develop a graphic interface project for mobile platforms based on Carter’s collection of stories The Bloody Chamber (1979). To contextualize interaction as a concept we need to understand that we are currently living in an age where people increasingly integrate the media into their lives, and these also become more dependent. Digital technology and media are extensions of ourselves and thus prolong the communication we establish with others. Algorithms, alphabets, and signs, in general, are part of a language that is useless if it is not understood as a process of cultural communication and participation, much like Literature. So the students embarked on this project, where reading the stories of Carter served as a starting point and the result would be its application in society.
The interaction process similar to what happens in Literature (Reception Theory) is an important tool for designers because it is a new way of communication. It involves the mind and stimulates it. The interactive communication, in this case, is superior to the conventional one that is unidirectional.

As the Chinese proverb goes:
I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.

In this assumption, the methodology of work is based on this process of interaction that moves information in a loop between the two actors. The better the information is, the better it flows and so does the interaction process.
So the students should absorb (interact) with the stories and participate in them, gather information without wasting it and question: how to organize? How to categorize? And how to hiperlink? Again, if in Literature the focus is the reader, the focus of these projects would be the user, who actually is the reader, as well. Who will use these applications? What use will they have in society? What possibilities are available to the user? What features will it have? What benefits can you have with its use? How will the navigation be?

The results of this process were surprising because we had linear readings (storyline), and diagrams that allow choices to the user (making decisions).
For example, the Pinch App that had as its starting point the short story “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon” and which resulted in a platform for sharing and making recipes given the number of food references in the text.

Pinch, Adriana Fernandes – Multimedia Design, Beira Interior University

Or the Meow and Active Pet App that comes from the “Puss-in-Boots” story where the special relationship between the puss-in-boots and his owner motivated the development of platforms that promote the welfare of pets.

Imagem 3 - Apresentação
Active Pet, Joana Silva – Multimedia Design, Beira Interior University

Meow, Ana Rita Eirinha – Multimedia Design, Beira Interior University

Then we have more linear and conceptual readings like Liro and Pride Rose influenced again by the story “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon” where we can interact in space with concepts of transformation and metamorphosis that are also mentioned in the narrative itself. In these two projects, we have a photography application for statuary that informs us about what we see and the canons of beauty or find the rose in Pride Rose where we can stimulate the senses through color, temperature, and odors. The readings were numerous and perhaps this is what reinforces the concept of these encounters on the reception of English Literature, the process of interaction of the reader with the text and how we can apply this reading (interaction) with reality as opposed to fiction.

Liro, Fábio Costa – Multimedia Design, Beira Interior University

Pride Rose, Catarina Soares – Multimedia Design, Beira Interior University

In the MSc of Innovation of Culinary Arts, the principle was the same, a Food Design project allied to Science and the Culinary Arts. And the question that arose was, how can the same short stories convey readings for different supports?
This is what we also want to show in the exhibition, how does each one of us read a text and can thus find a reading that becomes and object (artifact) of practical and real application?
The work proposal for Food Design students “A Taste of Angela Carter” already reveals the result of what we set out to do with the students, to read Angela Carter from the food itself. Students should choose the short stories they would like to work and analyze them from a gastronomic perspective. Each group then defined a strategy so that from the selected texts a menu was designed to serve in a sensory experience “Appetites beyond the grasp of our imagination” Part I
Similar to the Interaction Design students, the question focused on the user and how the reading that is made of the stories will be presented. Where will I serve? How will I serve? What space? What lighting? What supports and/or container? What temperature? What sound and music? What kind of interaction is established with the dining room team and those who are experiencing it?
In this sense, the presented dishes not only represent from the sensorial point of view the reading of the stories as they cover all the imaginary of the writer. Without revealing much about what was the end result we leave this feedback for those who will sit today at the table where Puss-in-Boots will be present, the Lady of the House of Love awaits to welcome you and we can appreciate the transformation of Mr. Lyon.

Ricardo Bonacho
CIAUD – Centro de Investigação em Arquitetura, Urbanismo e Design
Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies
Beira Interior University