First and Foremost

Hello, I am Akash Muralidharan. I am an Architect and a Food designer. I come from Chennai, a city along the Southeastern coast of India.

I owe my passion for food in my childhood and upbringing. My grandmother was the one who introduced me to some of the most amazing food I have ever tasted. Growing up in India also nurtured a strong connection with food through several everyday rituals and traditions.

Growing up in south India where food is the centerpiece to everyday activity, celebration, or holidays my memories about food also include the spaces involved. I remember my grandmother’s kitchen and garden where most of my childhood encounters with food and flavors occurred. Every time I recall the taste memories, I also recall the smell of the damp earth, the feeling of gravel under my feet, and the lush green algae on the garden walls. Even today every time I visit my grandmother, her kitchen gives me cravings for the same food she fed me decades ago. My memories with food have always been related to spaces, even before I became an architect.

“Thеrе wаs а timе whеn I еxpеriеncеd аrchitеcturе withοut thinking аbοut it. Sοmеtimеs I cаn аlmοst fееl а pаrticulаr dοοr hаndlе in my hаnd, а piеcе οf mеtаl shаpеd likе thе bаck οf а spοοn. I usеd tο tаkе hοld οf it whеn I wеnt intο my аunt’s gаrdеn. Thаt dοοr hаndlе still sееms tο mе likе а spеciаl sign οf еntry intο а wοrld οf diffеrеnt mοοds аnd smеlls.” 

Peter Zumthor, Thinking Architecture.

The perfect choice.

I always had a passion for design, right from my childhood. I completed my undergraduate degree in Architecture at Marg Institute of Design and Architecture, Swarnabhoomi in 2017 under Anna University. During my coursework, I constantly experimented with design concepts and solutions that helped me understand the relationship between food and architecture. During research for my academic thesis, I was introduced to various farmers across the country, who engaged me by allowing me to work in their farms and cooking food with the farms’ produce. This was the first instance when I discovered food as a design medium. The experience gave me a new realization of how food and design go hand in hand.

Design and Food give me the utmost satisfaction, that I wished to make a career out of it. Which pushed me to do my Masters in Food Design and Innovation course at Scuola Politecnica di Design in 2018. During my Master’s coursework in Milan, I had the opportunity to meet, interact, and work under the guidance of some of the finest food designers in Europe like Marti Guixe, Katja Gruijters, and Marije Vogelzgang. I also had the opportunity to do an internship with Katja Gruijters at her studio in the Netherlands. And working with peers from all over the world with different educational, cultural backgrounds helped me sharpen my design skills and my knowledge of different food cultures and their backgrounds.

This led me to an internship with Food designer Katja Gruijters in the Netherlands. Katja explores the connections between food, science, technology, culture, nature, and design. In carrying out her ideas, she collaborates with specialists in a wide range of disciplines: from top chefs and scientists to filmmakers and people from the business community. As a part of work with Katja, we had the opportunity to collaborate and work with professionals from different backgrounds. During one of the projects “Farm Food Family” I had the opportunity to experiment with the process of translating ingredients and their processes into spatial themes, from research to design of installations and mapping.

At the moment.

With all the experience I am back in Chennai, my hometown because I believe Indian food has incredible potential that we have not yet explored to its depths. As a food designer, my first job would be to highlight the subjects on food that are outside cooking. The world of food is much bigger than the kitchen. My job is to bring awareness to people that food is much bigger than what is on their plate.

From December 2019 I have started working with the Center for Genomic Gastronomy, from India. The Center for Genomic Gastronomy is an artist-led think tank based in Ireland and examines the biotechnologies and biodiversity of human food systems. The Center presents its research through public lectures, research publications, meals, and exhibitions. Since 2010, the Center has conducted research and exhibited in Europe, Asia, and North America. Working with them has opened new perspectives on futuristic food scenarios based on political and scientific situations around the world.

Today we talk about futuristic food rituals, changing climates, habitats, and how to tackle these issues. I believe that the answers for the future lie in the past, in understanding the transformation that food has gone through till now to forecast what could happen to our future. In order to reimagine and reshape our future to be more sustainable we have to make changes in the ways we connect with food right now and that’s my mission.