Digital Pastabilities

BluRhapsody by Barilla
BluRhapsody by Barilla
What shape of pasta do you fancy today? What ever it is, Barilla’s BluRhapsody can certainly make your wildest dreams come true, but you should know it doesn’t come cheap.
In a world which revolves around customisability, Barilla’s entry into the market with BluRhapsody, a wholly personalised and snazzy way of making pasta, seems like the stuff of dreams, particularly for someone who loves to play host.
The idea for BluRhapsody emerged from a pasta 3D printer that Barilla, one of the Italian household names for pasta, launched at the 2015 EXPO Milano. Marketed as ‘reinventing the art of making pasta’, BluRhapsody commits to produce new, previously unattainable forms of pasta with new flavour combinations.
The offering is streamlined into 3D-printed fresh pasta for gourmet dishes, 3D-printed dry pasta aimed at finger food and pasta 3D-printed in the shapes of letters, numbers and other symbols. And beyond the typical taste, BluRhapsody promises to make baskets of wild berry flavoured pasta, that can be filled with custard and chocolate flakes, ready to be served as finger food dessert.
Exciting and novel as this prospect may seem, a quick look at the website proves however that a box of 12 pieces of 3D-printed pasta will set you back around €25, with prices varying depending on the geometries.
In this sense, the premium brand that BluRhapsody has been made out to be runs directly counterintuitive to the raison d’être of 3D printers. In the context of global inflation, there is no premium value in creating pasta with a 3D printer in itself; particularly if the premise of a 3D printer is to democratise and make accessible, rather than to fetishise and luxuriate.
What could have been premium here are the designs themselves, if not the taste. Premium brands carry the responsibility of bringing quality (not just design) to the table. Here, it is not the design that is being sold, but the object itself is. Neither is the taste being truly refined, so with BluRhapsody, evidently, the appeal is in the aesthetics and plating possibilities, not in the taste and therefore quality. This is why traditionalists will continue to prefer handcrafted pasta as the real treat – the taste of pasta in its simplest sense remains unbeatable.

While we applaud their willingness to experiment with 3D printing and food commercially, BluRhapsody is unfortunately a missed opportunity. Being one of the most ubiquitous foods in the western hemisphere, pasta could really be the start of true democratisation by open-sourcing technology and mix design. The product here should not have been the pasta in itself, but rather the design (and therefore designer) that made it special and unique.

We dream of a future where pasta designs are downloadable, always having freshly printed pasta at your fingertips with your own 3D printer at home.

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