We all love great food! Whether you are a snacker or a mega-meal muncher, we all crave for a taste sensation and need good food for a healthy body and healthy mind. In addition, food holds the power of bringing people together.
Fostering these two aspects, the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia together with the Institute for the Future and the Future Food Institute have jointly created the Food Innovation Program – an amazing and globally unique platform and playground for food innovation. When Francesco D’Onghia, Academic Coordinator of the program contacted us last winter and explained his project, we got really excited to be part of the program by bringing in Moving Walls.
Naturally we wanted to see how our Moving Walls had affected their work in the past months, so we drove down to Reggio Emilia, where we met Francesco for a chat.. and to taste some amazing Italian food, of course.
Francesco, can you tell us what the idea behind the Food Innovation Program is?
The Food Innovation Program is a second level master program, which was built around the idea of educating new food innovators and creating a new culture of innovation that focuses on the food system on all levels. From production to distribution and shopping. It’s a global project involving many players and students from all around the world.
I’ve just read the Officucina Manifesto on the wall. One point that I specifically love is: Play first, read manuals second.
This is an important philosophy of ours. There is no right or wrong. There is just discovery that stimulates curiosity, which is very important in human development. You become a life-long learner if your curiosity is alive. We say ‘read manuals second’, but mostly there is no need for manuals at all. We want to discover by experimenting. To facilitate this, we created a new concept called ‘Officucina’, which combines ‘office’ and ‘kitchen’ – a real maker space with rich opportunities and tools to experiment and create food-related innovations. The Officucina was designed carefully to create an innovative and collaborative environment.
— Francesco D’Onghia (@Dongiboy) 23. September 2015
And that’s where the Moving Walls come in.
Absolutely. While designing the Officucina, we were looking for the right tools to make it easy for us to collaborate and visualize ideas. We needed something that makes the ideas and thinking process of an individual tangible, in order to create a new way of thinking and working together. During my search for the right tools, I discovered Moving Walls in a facebook post. So I got in touch and was instantly fascinated by the walls as you brought them to Reggio Emilia.
What was the reaction of the students like, when you introduced the work walls?
It was quite a powerful image that has stuck with me to this day. We had a Design Thinking day crammed with activities. The workshops were at full speed, when you guys arrived at around 11 AM and we set up the walls in the room. We just left the walls there, I talked to some people and when I turned around, the students had all gathered around the Moving Walls and were talking and drawing. It was pretty magical, because it was the first week and students didn’t really know each other well. So it was really nice to see how the walls brought them together. That really showed us the power of Moving Walls in enhancing proactivity in people.
“The students are in love with the work walls and embedded them in our daily activities and routine since day one. Moving Walls shaped the habits and dynamics in Officucina. I can not even imagine Officucina without Moving Walls. We use them daily for team work, events, seminars and exhibitions.”Academic Coordinator Food Innovation Program
Now that the class has settled in, how do the walls affect the students’ daily work?
The students fell in love with the work walls and have embedded them in our daily activities and routine since day one. The Moving Walls shaped the habits and dynamics in Officucina. I can not even imagine Officucina without Moving Walls. We use them daily for team work, events, seminars and exhibitions.
Have you experienced any pain points with the walls?
I can’t recall any moment where we’ve seen any downsides or problems. They are a little bit heavy to lift when you change setting, but that’s also a good thing because it makes them literally part of the furniture and not just a temporary tool. Plus they are very stable to work and draw on thanks to their weight.
If you were to explain Moving Walls to someone unfamiliar with the tool, how would you describe them?
I would describe Moving Walls as a powerful tool to get people to work together for a number of important reasons. One is that you can actually help people build a common and new way of thinking. When you talk about multi-disciplinary teams with different backgrounds, different age and different perspectives that’s not easy to achieve. If you have nothing that makes these different perspectives and ideas visible and tangible, it hardly happens. But standing up around one or multiple Moving Walls, engages people, brings their ideas out and gets energy flowing. They kind of silently invite you to draw and write on them and start collaborating.