CoLAB is a collaborative platform for innovation.
Established by Eddy Yu and Hung Lam, it aims to act as a “laboratory” to connect young designers with NGOs and social enterprises, to create good products that give back to the community.
In 2003, the duo founded CoDesign Ltd., which has since made a name for its simple and effective designs, driven by bold and innovative concepts. Specializing in branding and corporate identity, environmental graphics, and literature and packaging design, CoDesign’s clients include major corporations and institutions in Hong Kong. CoLAB was established as an affiliate, to drive design advancement in our society.
I’mperfect Lives: A Taste of Decay
The pandemic has turned our life upside down. But it is also a good opportunity to rethink our existing way of life, which is largely shaped by the beliefs of standardization, efficiency, and convenience. The relentless pursuit of perfection in our urban lifestyle has resulted in over consumption, and the rejection of the “imperfect”. Sandor Katz, a self-proclaimed fermentation revivalist and author of The Art of Fermentation, once said: “our perfection lies in our imperfection”. Fermentation is more than a means to preserve excess food, it also provides essential nutrients we cannot obtain otherwise. Through the introduction of the rich history of food fermentation around the world, we envision ways to restore order, calling on the help of good bacteria—germs, our projected enemy, are in fact friends who have long fought by our side, and come to our aid in desperate times.
The curatorial story presents a breathing space to reflect on perceptions towards our relationship with food, diet, nature, cultural roots, and daily lives during this unprecedented time. The network of fermented food is displayed by a variety of visual representations. We take you on to a journey to the multi-dimensional web of herbage, livestock, and nourishment, to appreciate the perfectly imperfect landscape around us.
There’re more possibilities in life than a “default” preset.
Our preset preconception is that good hygiene represents sophisticated urban lives that ensure we are shielded from disease. Looking back, fermentation is a process to adapt to the world of imperfections, where our ancestors discover good and bad bacterias through trial and errors. Could we inherit such explorative spirit, to cultivate more possibilities other than the defaults?
We live in an age of cleanliness, relying heavily on scientific figures and modern sciences, neglecting our own defence mechanism – our immune system. Most of the immune system is housed in the gut. By identifying good bacterias, we can turn these probiotic-rich fermented foods to restore gut lining as a natural barrier, giving us a robust immune system. Breast milk is the origin of seeding microbes to our gut. Heat sterilisation removes all forms of life including fibre, good and bad bacterias, in contrast to fermented dairy products. Yogurt (Europe) , Kefir (Russia, Baltic, Turkey), Dahi (India), Viili (Finland) and more contain multiple strains of bacteria and yeast.
We adapt without an absolute solution in life.
Natural corps is our medicine, not only pills and potions. There is no one perfect solution just as there isn’t a perfect problem. Looking for quick fixes is merely a way to avoid digging deep to the core of our issues. Adapt to our environment and allow the help of our diverse gut microbiota would make you more resilient.
Microorganisms permeate in air, soil, and waters. In modern days with the abundance of ultra processed foods, our desire for high sugar, savoury and caloric food is insatiable. When these impulses are incited, the diet constantly over-taxes our bodies. If we re-establish a seasonable and nutritious whole food regime, cultivating a good balance of diverse gut microbiota could make us more resilient to chronic inflammatory and obesity control.
The drive to perfect efficiency makes you suppress the interchangeability of life.
Residing in bustling cities that never stops drives us to strive for perfect efficiency, leading to the rising issues of stress and anxiety. Likewise, while industrialised processing produces stable food supplies for us, it removes our connections to the interconnected network of microorganisms. In fact, the gut and brain are linked, where 80% of serotonin is produced in our gut, lined with neurons that can influence our emotions and feelings.
In distress, would a piece of chocolate help? Chocolate is one of the lesser known fermented foods; in fact, without fermentation, cacao would have no flavour at all. Cacao contains biogenic amines such as serotonin and the concentration would further increase during fermentation.
Life is about diversity and interconnectivity.
There is no one best way of living, and yet as we evolved, we became more and more intertwined in a systematic lifestyle with standard values. There are growing bodies of voices for us to embrace diversity. Fermentation reminds us that food is an organic life of its own, and not a mass produced product.
Bread manufacturing has modernised with readymade yeast, and the demonising of carbohydrates. While modern day bread mostly contains 30+ ingredients, Sourdough bread, the origin of baking only consists of water, salt, flour and natural yeast starters. Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, or SCOBY, where it creates a unique “house” that bacteria and yeast can live in and latch on – a LIVING & GROWING bacteria.