EAT – Young interior design

Children who eat healthy school meals instead of fluffy fast food are less disruptive, concentrate better and accordingly get better results

Nutritionists, parents and teachers have known this for generations and tried to implement healthy food concepts in the schools in various ways. And with different results. In 2008 the Copenhagen Municipality launched a new schools-meal-project. Based on the funky healthy food the kids love, but this time focusing also on the elements that surround  the lunch break experience.

That’s when Annette joined the project as a consultant. She had added interior design to her skills – studying at KLC, London – and this project was a fantastic opportunity for Annette to combine her skill within identity, design and project management.

It obviously means everything for the students to have a ‘space’ to themselves. A space that is more attractive compared to the options outside school. If we could create that the kids would stay and eat the healthy food.

It may sound simple. But keep in mind that the project involved 35 very different and individual schools with different cultures, religions, social status etc. Kids are not just Kids… they are very different – sometimes very tribal.  

One of the first things we realized was how different the kids are. So it was very clear to us right from the start that a One-Concept-Fits-All was not the solution. The only way to make spaces that appealed to the students at each of the schools was to involve the kids in the process – make them decide, choose, and create their own space.

The challenge was not how to involve the students  – but how at the same time meet the deadline + keep the budget + use the suppliers chosen by the municipality

They decided on a strategy where the students had the open choice regarding style and mood in terms of all kinds of soft furnishing, decorative items, colors, etc. (20% of the budget) whereas the basic furniture (80% of the budget) was from a limited selection of items from a few selected suppliers. With more than 35 schools the planning was a project in itself, so the first step was to develop a master plan for what to do when at which schools: individual workshops, designing, ordering, implementing.

To involve the students we developed tools for workshops: Inspirational odd ideas – to trigger their imagination and show that it could be anything more than a canteen – and different directions of styles.

Based on the input from the workshops Annette and her colleagues developed a plan for each school and the students choose the specific products from the catalogue of furniture and decoration items. The students were highly involved in the process and very enthusiastic – at all stages from idea generation, to choosing the furniture from the catalogue and to the implementation.

Off course the project needed a name and a visual identity as well – that part was made by e-types who named it EAT

At that time I was very busy making the lounges, but followed the process closely – particularly in the naming process.

The students loved EAT, the food and their lounges. And 5 years after the launch of EAT 20 % of the students in the Municipality of Copenhagen ordered the Healthy Eat Food from Københavns Madhus.

Its exiting to see something beautiful grow from dull and boring spaces. But the biggest thrill is being part of something as meaning full as changing the students eating habits from junk to healthy. Annette ends.