What are the projects and services of byFlow? How is it to present 3D Food Printing to the public? What does design have to do with it? Only one person knows the best answers - Toussaint Jongen, our Project & Service Manager!
Let’s start properly, with the beginnings. What’s your “byFlow story”?
I have been connected to byFlow for quite some time, since the early beginning! For my study, Industrial Product Design, I did an internship at FabLab Maastricht where I got acquainted with Floris, his father Frits and 3D printing in general. After this internship I kept in touch and used to run some projects for the FabLab as well. When the Focus printer was in development and eventually lead to the start of byFlow company, I joined the company as a student, to carry out demonstrations at fairs and events. After my second study, a Master in Industrial Design, I joined the team fulltime and as Project and Service manager I am mostly organising demonstrations, workshops and masterclasses to bring the best of 3D Food Printing to the world.
How does your design background relate to your current position and tasks then? Do you have space to express your creativity in daily work?
Designing is still part of my daily routine, though not how most people commonly see design. I don’t really work with a design process, where I draw and sketch to create a new product. However, a workshop, training or even business case for the use of the printer needs to be designed too, and every new customer has its own wishes and desires. Problem solving is also based on design thinking and when organising a project, I really like to get the customer as much involved as possible. Thinking along with people, to create the best possible experience, requires a creative mindset.
What do the services in your job title refer to? What are your tasks in this field?
As a Project & Service manager within byFlow, I am responsible to organise most of the demonstrations, workshops and events, which are seen as projects. Besides this, I am also responsible to give the best kind of service to our clients who make use of our printer. This differs from giving direct support, like training and helping them to understand the workflow, but also indirect, by creating manuals and helpful documents to support this workflow. And again, these supporting documents need to be designed and thought well through, to make everything as simple and understandable as possible.
Is it difficult to present to people such a new technology 3D Food Printing? What are the usual responses? Are they always the same or are you surprised sometimes?
3D Food Printing is still quite new and despite all the exposure byFlow has gained, people are still so amazed of what we present. On fairs or events almost everybody is astonished by the shapes and how the creations are being build, layer by layer.
But once it comes to tasting, the opinions differ a bit. The difficulty I still experience, is that people associate 3D printed food as artificial and not healthy. Once explained it is only freshly prepared ingredients and printed in an innovative shape, the restraint turns into enthusiasm and they want to taste the dish. However, trying it also means destroying the design and you can see the hesitation on people’s faces before they do it.
Another funny thing - people intend to think all the prints are solid and, as common human behaviour, they all want to touch it. Once it appears to be soft, they always seem to be surprised.
Considering the opinions which you observe, how do you see the future of 3D Food Printing? Where will it be in 5 or 10 years?
I truly believe 3D Food Printing will have a bright future. Within few years, 3D printing food will be part of our daily life. Now, it is presented as something very exclusive and new, which generates a lot of excitement. It will always be about creating experience, with appetizing looks and feel, especially within catering and hospitality industry.
I am sure more companies will get more interested in the potential of this technology, so consequently the market will grow. As pioneer in the 3D food printing, byFlow needs to be at the front, keep on innovating and move to new fields.
What is your main motivation to do what you do?
I feel really proud and excited to be part of this new movement called 3D Food Printing. It is still very explorative, but also very promising for the future. When looking back in few years time, I will feel incredible that I was given the opportunity to be at the cradle of this innovative technology.
I also really like to amaze and surprise people. It is great to see what people think of 3D printed food and how they feel about it. It is truly enjoyable when they are a bit careful and sceptical towards this technology, to change their mindset and get them excited. Especially once they taste it and realize it's delicious, the expressions on peoples’ faces are a reward on its own.