“I’ve been collecting all kinds of weirdly-designed food packaging over the years and I always intended to do something with it but, for a long time, I couldn’t figure out exactly what,” Anna Marchini Camia tells It’s Nice That. Anna is a Zurich-based illustrator and graphic designer whose route into the creative industry was, she says, as conventional as it gets. After completing her design foundation year in Lucerne, Anna went on to study style and design — a form of concept design — at ZHdK. During her undergraduate, she met four other students — cultural journalist Mona Altheimer, digital artist Corinne Hepting, design manager Elena Frischknecht and photographer Céline Lütolf — and, together, they conceptualised and created food design-based publication In the Land of Shit and Sugar.
Made up of multiple high exposure, Toiletpaper-esque photographs, In the Land of Shit and Sugar is a vibrant compilation of anything related to edible goods be it marshmallows, seasoning mix or cellophane. From stacks of melted cheese and hotdogs to roast duck, the team has compiled an all-you-can-eat menu of astonishing foods presented in unconventional and, at times, grotesque way. “In short, our publication is a documentation of product designs that don’t fit current design trends and therefore often evoke a ‘what the fuck’ moment. For our research we would stroll through 24-hour kiosks, shabby sex shops or Asian supermarkets to collect a lot of ‘trashy’ material with our mobile phones. We then analysed this flood of images and tried to arrange them in various ways. After our research phase it was clear that unconventional food packaging was an interest that we all shared.”
In the Land of Shit and Sugar is divided into two parts; the first section is structured like a supermarket catalogue of available products; the second is made up of a series of abstract, playful and exaggerated images of the 300 featured food items. “As we were five people, each one of us chose the products we wanted to portray, presented our concepts and then translated it to our preferred visual format; collage, photography or illustration. The only difficulty was making sure that everyone spoke the same visual language and that we stayed on topic conceptually speaking,” Anna says. Alongside the book, the team also produced an online platform named Shit and Sugar in order to showcase future projects dealing with similar topics and aesthetics in one place.
When asked if In the Land of Shit and Sugar is meant to comment on wider social issues regarding food patterns and healthy eating, Anna replies, “is it a critique of our consumerist society that devours too much shit without reflecting? Is it about food waste and bad taste? I wouldn’t align myself either view. In my opinion, these topics are too complex to distill into this format. I think In the Land of Shit and Sugar was more about creating a snapshot of design’s diversity and charting the multiple stories we can find in the contemporary product landscape.”