September 07, 2016

Report from the Studio: Designing for Hunger Relief

The CANopy team tied fishing line to each can in order to suspended the installation from the ceiling.

As part of KieranTimberlake's commitment to dedicate 1% of its time to community service and engagement, the Community Involvement group collaborates with nonprofit organizations on pro-bono projects of various scales. Community Involvement members Fatima Olivieri, Megan Suau, and Laura Willwerth discuss their most recent pro-bono project created in partnership with Philabundance.

This spring, the Community Involvement group continued a long-standing partnership with Philabundance, the largest hunger relief organization in the Delaware Valley. Our interdisciplinary team of architects, graphic designers, fabricators, and researchers created two interactive and informative installations: one in the Philabundance lobby, and one in KieranTimberlake's lobby as part of the studio's Drawn + Quartered exhibit.  
Initially, we designed lobby installations made of canned goods that would be donated at the exhibit's conclusion. While discussing this idea with Philabundance organizers, however, we were surprised to learn that one pound of food donations provides only one meal to a community member in need, while a $1 donation provides two. In order to better serve Philabundance's needs, we scrapped our initial design and went back to the drawing board to create installations focused on monetary donations. 
The resulting installation is CANopy, a suspended structure made of empty cans and embedded with three layers of information. The first layer of information can be found in installation's pyramid shape, which reflects the Caloric Ratio Pyramid. The Pyramid represents the percentage of calories derived from the three main food groups: carbohydrates, fat, and protein.  

The various colors of the cans, seen here during the painting and construction process, represent a specific food item's nutritional category within the Caloric Ratio Pyramid.

The second and third layers of information involve the cans and acrylic tags hanging below the pyramid. The hanging cans allow users to see the cost and nutritional value of each food item, but do not reveal what the food item actually is. In contrast, the hanging tags identify each food item, but do not reveal the nutritional value or cost of the item. By going back and forth between the hanging cans and tags, users can learn more about not only nutritional values, but also about the challenges of constructing a nutritious meal on a strict budget.

The hanging cans, seen here during the construction process of the Philabundance installation, allow visitors to see the cost and nutritional value of a food item, but don't identify what the food item is.  

Hanging acrylic tags, like this one representing peanut butter, identify each food item without revealing its cost. 

The installation is paired with an interactive, online application that further educates users on the cost and nutritional value of shelf stable goods. The app also serves as a fundraising tool, generating donations through a game that challenges users to select a combination of three items that hits a target nutritional zone. Each time a user selects a successful combination, KieranTimberlake donates $5.20 to Philabundace. Through the installation and app, CANopy hopes to help visitors develop an understanding of the relationship between nutrition and cost while also creating personal awareness of their own nutritional habits.  

The interactive app, shown above, teaches visitors the challenges of healthy eating on a budget, while also raising money and awareness for Philabundance.

Visitors are welcome to view the installation at Philabundance's headquarters, as well as at the Drawn + Quartered exhibit at KieranTimberlake's Northern Liberties studio. For more information regarding Philabundance, please visit their website here.

The finished installation, shown here with the construction crew in the Philabundance lobby, engages and educates users on the nutritional value and cost of various food items.