5 February 2015
Before the blowout on food at Expo Milan 2015, a small exhibition at the Triennale, conceived and curated by Giulio Iacchetti, is devoted to the K-Ration. “An exhibition on the food rations used in the world’s armies, between insecurity, nutrition and design,” declares the press release. The kit was invented for the American army in 1939 by Ancel and Margaret Keys (whence the K in its name), with the aim of giving soldiers emergency rations that would supply them with indispensable nutrients and the implements needed to consume them even under extreme conditions. Containing the maximum of nourishment in the minimal space available, i.e. a small box, became a challenge that was quickly taken up and met by the armies of all countries. Over time, the problem attracted the attention not only of Keys and his wife, American physiologists who described themselves as “suffering from an incurable desire to improve things,” but also military engineers and technicians of every nationality. Thus the collection on display provides an opportunity to look at food through the narrow and analytical lens of necessity, untouched by incidental digressions into the realm of aesthetics and constrained instead by social, cultural and political implications that bring beauty back to the form of the indispensable. “A return,” as Iacchetti himself explains, “to the value of essentiality as the key to dealing with precarious situations, using design to meet genuine and primary human needs in admirable fashion.” It’s hard to imagine anything more intelligent in terms of food and design.
K-Ration: Meals for Soldiers in Action
Triennale di Milano
Curated by Giulio Iacchetti and Massimo Pitis (graphic design)
January 22 > February 22, 2015