Accepted abstract - Creative Tastebuds Symposium 2021


Acoustic design strengthening local food culture and cultural heritage

Video abstract and opinion paper

By Silén Sami, Hopia Anu, Uimonen Heikki, Kontukoski Maija, University of Turku, Finland

A research and development project is presented in the form of a video abstract and an opinion paper, aimed at identifying elements of acoustic design that can enhance people's involvement in their own cultural heritage as part of a dining experience. The goal was to explore how acoustic design can add to the experience as part of personal and collective meaningfulness tied to a specific physical location, and how these elements can be combined with the local food experience as part of the overall food practice.

The acoustic design focused in particular on the aspect of sound and visual observations and their artistic applications. The food offered in the project's pop-up restaurant was made from locally produced organic ingredients and the same notion was chosen to be implemented in the audiovisual elements experienced during the meal, i.e. the event's sound, music and video art was based on local cultural heritage. Our goal was to find auditory and visual connections to local culture and to create a link for the experience with the local environment.

The experimental part included a multisensory pop-up restaurant tour, "A Trip To The Province", which served as a case study where we analyzed the use of musical sound as part of the multidisciplinary space and sound design. The study investigated whether it is possible to represent local experiences through acoustic design. There were five detailed research questions: 1) How does the sound designer take into account locality in the planning and implementation of events? 2) How do people experience the sound and ambience of restaurant dinners? 3) What are the ways in which experiential locality can be produced or promoted? 4) What other aspects of acoustic design should be considered? 5) Does the concept of acoustic design become more specific with the analysis of the case study material?

Restaurants can enhance guests’ experience on locality by incorporating audiovisual elements such as music, soundscape, photography and video art into the dining scene. Tailored audiovisual elements designed by local artists support the chosen theme of locality and sustainability.

The findings from the project were refined in 2019 into the multi-sensory "Nature On A Plate" dining concept, which aims to emphasize the experiential dining experience while understanding the importance of locally produced organic ingredients and how they should be taken into account in future food culture of healthy and sustainable foods. The multi-sensory dining events produced by our concept provide examples on how a dining event can create an experience that enhances local culture and local food. The examples are feasible in both adventurous and everyday dining situations.

Local food can be seen as an incentive that aims, together with the local experience, to shape choices for eco-friendly and even more environmentally friendly consumption. Also, from a circular economy perspective locally produced food is the future of our food system. Sustainably produced and consumed food saves and recycles valuable natural resources and reduces the consumption on food transport, storage and preservation. Building a multi-sensory local food experience for everyday life and celebration is one way to accomplish this goal. Our project focused to show our clients how to make an interesting dining experience for all our sences by simple means with the goals of sustainability in mind.

The “A Trip To The Province” project was produced by chef Jani Unkeri (Restaurant Juurella), sound designer-musician Sami Silén and photographer Tomi Lähdesmaki.

The “Nature On A Plate” project is produced by chef Jani Unkeri (Restaurant Juurella), sound designer-musician Sami Silén and photographer Timo Ahopelto.