Theme: Future Thinking

Hannerie Visser and her culinary-minded design team at Studio H are passionate about identifying problems and creating solutions in the food chain. So when they were invited to exhibit a project at Dutch Design Week in 2017, which took place during the height of Cape Town’s drought, they knew they needed to look at the water crisis. “If you think that 69% of the world’s freshwater, an increasingly precious resource, is used for agriculture, it’s clear something’s got to give,” says Visser. The team began to research the idea of seawater agriculture, and S/Zout Pantry was born. It was was so well-received that it now forms part of the permanent collection at The MAK Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna. In 2019 it also travelled through Canada with The Dutch Institute of Food & Design’s exhibition, Edible Futures, and was named as one of Dezeen’s top 10 most sustainable foods at the Dutch Design Week. For the project, Studio H partnered with Salt Farm Texel in the Netherlands, who have had great success over the last ten years growing crops using seawater irrigation, specifically lettuce, cabbage, strawberries, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes. Using produce grown at Salt Farm Texel, they created a multi-sensory stand at Dutch Design Week, where visitors were able to taste the difference between saline and ‘normal’ vegetables and could try out S/Zout ketchups, atchar, pickles and carrot candies. “Interestingly, produce grown in seawater turned out to be sweeter than regular produce, as it compensates for the extra salt by storing its sugar reserves,” says Visser. Visitors could also smell the sea, or listen to a recorded interview with Bas Bruining from Salt Farm Texel. “Our hope is that people walked away from the exhibition with a real sense of the impact of what we eat on the planet,” says Visser. To continue sharing their message, Studio H designed a series of waterless dinners, one of which was held in partnership with the V&A Waterfront, in honour of Earth Hour. The team came up with inventive dishes, working with products such as camel milk and ostrich meat and eggs, given these animals can go months and weeks respectively without water. “We had fun coming up with the menu and created dishes like giant fried ostrich eggs and camel milk strawberry ice cream,” says Visser. Studio-H is excited for the next phase of the project, which is to grow crops commercially in seawater, together with a partner in the local agriculture sector, and to work with chefs to develop a future food pantry, using only salt-tolerant vegetables as ingredients. “There is so much possibility for the future,” says Visser. 

100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.