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Conflict Kitchen :: Design + Food For Good

by Jennifer Stewart | Oct 12, 2012 | Opinions

This falls under the category of So-Cool-I-Had-To-Share. The Conflict Kitchen is an amazing example of the awesomeness that can explode out of the combination of food and design. Created by two Carnegie Mellon University professors as a way to “expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within [countries the USA is in conflict with],” the Conflict Kitchen serves up a six month rotation of ethnic food that pleases the senses alongside design the communicates a powerful message.

The eye-popping exterior graphics are hard to ignore and assist in drawing curious customers. With input from the local ethnic population, designer Brett Yasko combined native colors and patterns from each focus country such as Iran, Afghanistan, and Venezuela.

The best elements, though, are the creative wraps that deliver the delicious food and the insightful information that is the entire basis for restaurant’s existence. As co-founding Professor Jon Rubin writes about the Venezuelan wrappers, 
...[the] custom-designed wrappers include interviews with Venezuelans both in Venezuela and the United States on subjects ranging from street food and popular culture to debates about President Hugo Chavez and the geopolitical dynamics of the region....As is to be expected, the thoughts and opinions that come through the interviews are often contradictory and complicated by personal perspective and history. These natural contradictions reflect a nuanced range of thought within each country and serves to instigate questioning, conversation, and debate with our customers.

Not only does this project inspire great conversation, it is also the only thing that has inspired me to visit Pittsburgh, PA, where the restaurant is setup. Though currently closed down for renovations, this fine example of the power of food and design is a must-see attraction.
Photos by Brett Yasko

Jennifer Stewart is the Office Manager and wanna-be organizational psychologist at Modern Species. For more posts from her, click here.

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