Interaction 19
4-10 February 2019
Seattle, WA
United States

Vive la révolution! — Local winemakers revolt against the industrialization of experience.

talk – 15 min | Feb 8 – 11:00

The French-led counterrevolution against the industrialization of wine is a model for resisting the over-industrialization of human experience.

France is changing the way we experience wine, and the wine regions surrounding Lyon are at the heart of a revolution!

The last fifty years have seen a profound industrialization of the winemaking process. This has lead to lower prices, but it hasn’t just altered wine production, it has altered the chemistry of the beverage itself. It has even altered something fundamental to what it means to be human; the way we taste. The way we experience wine has become fundamentally intertwined with industrial production methods.

This industrialization has a symbiotic relationship with taste. Tastemakers like wine critics have responded to industrialization by creating a new interaction design for wine purchasing based on a scoring system. In turn, industrial production has adapted to wine criticism by altering techniques to suit mass-market flavor profiles that are now quantifiable. The result has been a race to the middle, with most industrially produced wines falling within a narrow synthetic taste profile that most consumers now believe is normal.

But the tide is shifting. Led by the “Gang of Four” Cru Beaujolais winemakers just up the road from Lyon, a counter-revolution has sprung into action to remove the layers of mediation between terroir and taste. ’Natural Wine’ producers around the world are proving that humans chafe at the confinement of rigidly automated experiences, and there is a market for the authentic, agrarian and artisanal qualities that can’t be reduced to a numeric score.

This talk will examine the counter-revolution of the Natural Wine movement to explore a profound set of questions around how industrialization and automation can fundamentally alter human experience, and what we as a community of interaction designers can do about it.

These questions have profound implications for agribusiness, standards of living, and our culture of food and drink. If we’re plunging headlong into a world where automation alters experience, we must ask ourselves, how do we keep the humanity in our lives?

About the speaker

Bram Wessel

Bram Wessel

I am a Seattle based experience strategist and co-founder of Factor, an information and interaction design consulting firm. I’ve been practicing experience design and strategy for 25 years and am particularly interested in keeping the humanity in human digital experience. I am heavily involved in the user experience community in the Pacific Northwest including IXDA Seattle.


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