'The first steaks are already being printed'

Arno Coenen

Contemporary artist

My name is Arno Coenen, a contemporary artist who often creates works of art in collaboration with local residents and others directly involved. I have built a reputation with monumental works of art in public spaces, in which I mix old crafts, such as glass mosaic, with contemporary computer graphics.

I gained international fame with my contribution to The Market Hall in Rotterdam by MVRDV Architects, the large-scale, colorful ceiling that ended up on the covers of both the Architecture in the Netherlands Yearbook and the Dutch Design Yearbook.

1. What are the main challenges in the food system change?

Farmers. Dutch farmers have taken a conservative position in, for example, the nitrogen crisis. I lived on a farm for a while and learned that the farmer in question actually thinks that citizens have little business in agricultural areas. The farmers, the agricultural lobby, they will really have to participate in the transitions that everyone will participate in.

2. What will the future of food look like in 25 years, what will we eat?

Star Trek is always right! Lots of stuff from this series and other science fiction once seemed bizarre and futuristic. A ubiquitous computer voice you can turn to for advice? My parents have such a thing in the living room, they also turn on the garden lighting on request. Not long ago I thought the food replicators from Star Trek were very farfetched, but the first steaks are already being printed!

a mealworm in a cocktail glass with lettuce and whiskey sauce is exactly a shrimp cocktail.

3. What is the way forward, what can we do today for a better tomorrow?

Eating printed steaks, realising that a mealworm in a cocktail glass with lettuce and whiskey sauce is exactly a shrimp cocktail.

Maybe too soon, but the taboo on cannibalism, all those high-quality proteins. In an extreme crisis situation people have often thrown that taboo overboard, and are we not now collectively living in a crisis situation?

4. What role can branding and brand design play in driving the change?

Now something futuristic that is slowly becoming a (bizarre) reality: who would have thought 10 years ago that half the menu of those devilish McDonalds would consist of vegan items?

5. Can you name a role model who is making the right future steps in your eyes?

Ronald McDonald

6. With whom would you like to discuss this subject over dinner?

Till Lindemann

7. What do you think is the most progressive/sustainable packaging solution so far?

Phew… I’m not an expert in this area, very strange, but I suddenly have to think of that weird condom on the famous bifi sausage…far from sustainable and progressive, but a positive thing about bifis, so not all weird preservatives go in there at all, drying, smoking, brining suffices. And those things will probably be sustainable, animal-free printing soon.

McDonald's doesn't make those plant burgers for nothing.

8. Which characteristics are crucial for people and companies to be able to keep up with the future and the associated innovations?

Keep learning and experimenting, grab a good crisis by the horns and connect the past and present.

9. How do you contribute?

I don’t work in the food industry and an allotment garden, I gave up on that after a few years. I am an artist but also a person who is swept along by the zeitgeist and tries to do the right thing. It helps to buy back on earlier questions, it makes a huge difference when big brands throw a lifebuoy as a handhold. I think that is increasingly becoming a reality because we want it to, and it simply means that more money can be earned immediately. McDonald’s doesn’t make those plant burgers for nothing.

10. What is your biggest desire or ambition?

A printed, cruelty free, sustainable bifi sausage.

Arno Coenen

Contemporary artist