Mirzam's newest chocolate bar, using heirloom foods and the design of a local artist, will be revealed at this year's Dubai Design Week.

As the issues facing our food system become bigger, and more difficult to avoid, designers are asking how they can solve some of the problems at hand, opening up new opportunities and questions at the intersection of food and design. Installations and exhibitions featuring food design are popping up across the globe, normalizing food as a point of interrogation at design symposiums, workshops and other centers of the industry. This November at Dubai Design Week, some of the creators and artists invested in rethinking food design will highlight the issues they’re thinking about, analyzing food systems and sustainable design through collaborative workshops, talks and new products. Here are the projects that caught our eye this year, debuting at Dubai Design Week between November 11 – 16:

DIY BioPlastic

Although bioplastic and eco-friendly packaging might be buzzy words in the world of sustainability, few people know what’s in the different bioplastics they might buy, or whether the materials are as sustainable as their name implies. Hoping to not only teach people more about bioplastic, but also make design an accessible and engaging activity, the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) is hosting a hands-on workshop, where participants can make their own bioplastic out of commonplace ingredients. Produced in collaboration with MIT and Parsons School of Design, the workshop encourages students to directly participate in sustainable design and the production process.

Rebuilding Communities through Food

Dubai-based chocolate maker Mirzam will reveal its latest product at this year’s design week, a chocolate bar produced in collaboration with Turquoise Mountain and Ziba Foods. These two Afghan organizations are dedicated to preserving cultural heritage and traditional crafts, as well as sustainably grown heirloom foods. Mirzam’s new chocolate bar will be housed in a wrapper decorated with the hand-drawn designs of Turquoise Mountain commissioned artist Mohammad Zaman Nasih, while the bar itself will contain heirloom Shakhurbai almonds, labeled one of the world’s “forgotten superfoods.”

Teaching Children to Design

Echoing Dubai Design Week’s theme this year, learning, the week will culminate in an educational workshop where children can learn and practice designing solutions to the problems facing our planet. Placed in small teams, kids participating in the workshop will be prompted to come up with creative ideas for how they might solve real-world issues. Taking inspiration from the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the children will be directed to focus their work on food and climate action.