Social Impact Design:
the “Minnesota Eats” Exhibit
September 27, 2015
By Sandy Wolfe Wood and Linda Henneman,
Design for Good Co-leads for The Common Table Collaboration
AIGA Minnesota’s Design for Good and The Common Table, a network of people from the Minnesota food and design communities, collaborated to create an interactive exhibit titled “The Common Table: Minnesota Eats” at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair. The exhibit ran the duration of the Fair, from August 27 through September 7, with potential to reach the 1.75 million people who attended this year.
This exhibit involved 25 designer members of AIGA Minnesota working in tandem with people from the local food community in the hope of inspiring Fair visitors to think differently about the food they eat. Starting in January 2015, this committed group met regularly and followed a design thinking process to arrive at clear, engaging messages around six action areas: nurture healthy soil, grow your own food, buy food locally, eat at sustainable local restaurants, reduce food waste, and promote food justice.
Each design team worked iteratively, tweaking ideas in response to feedback from the larger group and from local food activists, kids, parents, and others so that final designs met the following goal:
People should leave this exhibit with 1) more knowledge about where their food comes from, and 2) inspired to take one or more actions that ultimately lead to a sustainable food system.
The exhibit was both playful and educational. Visitors were greeted at one entrance by a 16-foot-high fork and spoon with broccoli and a cherry, and at the other by an 8-foot wall of china plates collected from a cross-section of Minnesota cupboards. The exhibits within featured a kitschy kitchen, aquaponic and vertical gardens, voting stations, an interactive foodscape, dirt and compost displays, over 400 edible plants, and demonstrations and presentations by members of the local food community. All of the exhibits had an interactive component and included a QR code that sent the visitor to a website for more information.
This collaboration represents an outstanding example of the power of design to change how people think about their world. We hope this is the beginning of many such partnerships between AIGA Minnesota and members of the community hoping to create positive social change.
Photos by Scott Streble
2015 Minnesota Eats Exhibit Participants
Includes designers, writers, and photographers
* Indicates design team leader
** Indicates overall project coordinator
Sandy Wolfe Wood**
For More Information
The Common Table is a growing network that includes members of the local food community and designers working to promote local food in Minnesota.
Consider becoming involved in the Design for Good initiative of AIGA Minnesota, the professional association for design.