Wednesday 31 Aug 2011


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The young designers at HASSELL created their version of a Yatai – a Japanese food truck – for the 2011 State of Design Festival and its ‘design that moves’ theme.

The aim was to use social media to engage people and beta-entrepreneurialism to activate unused areas around the city fringe. It was designed to be more than a food truck: a mobile pop-up restaurant. The concept was dubbed Chasing Kitsune.

Kitsune is a mythical fox in Japanese culture which shape-shifts and only reveals its true form in shadow or reflection. The truck operated at night only and the locations were revealed on the day through Facebook and Twitter.

The design for the yatai is simple, calculated and surprising. Based on the “matryoshka principal” (babushka doll), the box landscape of Chasing Kitsune nests inside each other and can all fit within the space of the truck. Once the truck is in location, the canvas sides pull back to reveal the kitchen, the boxes are removed from the truck and set up, allowing space for the chef to prepare.

The arrangement of the boxes responds to the location, i.e. random scattering for an open area versus long and directional for a laneway. A canopy is suspended on rollers which extends out, aligning the downlights with the workspace and providing shelter.

The materials used are simple and homogenous, concentrating on the craftsmanship. Marine grade plywood boxes are finger jointed to allow the plywood layers to be exposed and enhanced. The canopy is clad in mirror laminate, reflecting the boxes while playing up to the “kitsune” myth of the fox revealing itself. The event created a stir in the design and foodie communities in Melbourne and has spurred interest in Chasing Kitsune continuing on or taking a new form, as the food truck phenomenon gathers momentum.


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