In the last year, we’ve been working with Clover on their food trucks and their new restaurant in Harvard Square. Boston area residents may have already visited one of the two Clover Food Lab Trucks that are on the roll, one in Kendall Square and the other in Dewey Square near South Station. For those of you that don’t know Clover, they are an amazing innovation in (dare we say it) ‘fast food.’ But don’t let the connotations fool you: First of all, the owner, Ayr, is very modest about the little revolution he is starting. In working through the design with him, we decided early on that there will be nothing in the architecture or marketing materials that screams that Clover is vegeterian, locally sourced, and organic whenever it can be. What matters here is not making these distinctions (which are too quickly becoming marketing buzzwords), but instead to simply serve up delicious, healthy (and fast) food.
Starting by recycling decommissioned cargo trucks, the Clover Trucks have been designed to be efficient, low-energy, passively cooled, and abstractly minimal – like a white-board on wheels ready to be written on. Despite their simple appearance, they are a small small feat of engineering that spans very compact kitchen and storage design to the integration of an i-phone driven POS system spearheaded by Ayr with his affinity for cutting-edge and user-friendly technology. As we refine the design for future trucks, they will be converted to bio-diesel and include solar hot water and photovoltaic panels. And as we zoom out and think about the larger picture, we hope to not only contribute to the design of the spaces, but also to the rethinking of the larger environmental predicament of our food systems: how it is distributed, prepared, and consumed.