University duo the only New Zealanders selected for Sydney Design Festival video

Chris McKeen

Dining designers are off to the Sydney Design Festival in September.

Combining jelly, food and theatre has made two Auckland students the only New Zealanders selected for the prestigious Sydney Design Festival.

But AUT spatial design honours students Harriet Beex​ and Matthew Torr first need to secure funding to help get them across the ditch. 

Beex and Torr describe their work as "experiential food design" and said they explore the arts through the medium of food.

Jessica Mentis, Matt Torr and Harriet Beex prepare to take their jelly dining experience to Australia.
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Jessica Mentis, Matt Torr and Harriet Beex prepare to take their jelly dining experience to Australia.

"We use the principles of spatial design and theatre and performance to put on an experiential culinary experience," Beex said. 

The creative duo has teamed up with university mentor Jessica Mentis​ from Mentis Studios, also known as "The Jellyologist". 

They will put on a three-course show at the festival, which runs from September 2-11.

The students describe their art as an "experiential culinary experience".
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

The students describe their art as an "experiential culinary experience".

"Our practice is just like a builder or an architect uses concrete and timber - we use food to construct and activate spaces and experiences," Beex said. 

Using food as a medium is expensive, she said, especially given they are full time students and have to fund all of their projects themselves. 

"We're pretty much working other jobs so that we can fund the stuff we love doing."

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The collaborating trio needs about $2000 more to get across the ditch so has set up a Givealittle page for people to donate

Mentis said creative endeavours are undervalued and funding is hard to come across but the work they do is "something quite special".

The festival is presented by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

​Although the trio remained tight-lipped about what they would be delivering at the festival, Mentis said they would be exploring other ways of eating instead of using traditional plates and cutlery.

"The waiters are going to be actors and kind of really fold the guests back into the performance and blur the line between audience and participation."

Torr said it's all about exposing people to things they wouldn't usually see in a normal restaurant.

"It's kind of bridging the amazing food that's already out there already and the skills of people that can cook and pair amazing dishes with this sort of performative, theatrical engagement to bring these things together."​

 - Stuff

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