Dan_Qian_Desire Land_2.jpg

Sugar Forest




Sugar Forest is a series of projects made by sugar where participants immerse themselves in the tasting process. They offer them fun, experiential, social access point to sugar, emphasizing shared pleasure, dismissing restraint, and urging enjoyment of balanced intake.

Project Type

Thesis Projects

Project Length

8 months

Key Words

Food Design

Experience Design

Social Critic



Research, Concept innovation, Physical interaction,2D and 3D prototype, Testing, Book Writing




I believe sugar pleasure is a balance of physical and psychological aspects. To achieve the balance between the body and the soul, my designs encourage humans to slow down and focus on pleasure, using physical impediments in place of psychological ones and transferring them from constraints into catalysts of pleasure. While chasing the sweet taste, impediments enrich and thicken the pleasure through the challenge. The challenges act as metaphors for the restraints we feel around pleasure, modeled in the relationship between humans and sugar.

By providing people different perspectives of the relationships between humans and sugar, I am trying to create intoxication moments for the sugar tasting process, embracing the constraints. While people targeting the sweet taste, limits are overcome and the pleasure transfers into metaphorical nutrients feeding our desires, enriching our pleasure. I walk my participants through the sugar forest experience, where the psychological and the physical merge and swap, creating new understandings of pleasure, limits, and rewards.





 In my project of sugar juicer, the freshness and healthy social connotations of lemon complement the high-calorie and youth-consuming label of sugar. The feeling of safety from lemon cured the anxiety of sugar. In reward, the sweetness also neutralizes the harsh and acidic taste of lemon. 

The design also provide the taster a focus moment. Users rotate and crush the lemon on the sugar juicer, enjoying smell of  fresh lemon and sweet sugar mixing together. watching the liquid getting thicker, feeling the sugar become fragile. At that moment, all the senses are occupied, focusing on spinning,timing, smell, and sweet. we are seduced by the combination physical work and sensory pleasure.



​Smell Rescue


Once upon a  time, I took the Caltrain to Mountain View to interview a professor at Stanford, and I was waiting for my teammates in the Caltrain station in the downtown of San Francisco. The station has four doors, one as the entrance to trains, the others face towards street. The atmosphere is so complicated, mixed with human, food, automobile exhaust, and dust. Although people sit under a roof, it feels like they were placed in the middle of the crossroad, everything exposed.

The series sugar design called “ Smell Rescue Masks” takes advantage of the sweet smell of the sugar, exploring  a different way sheltering oneself  in the Caltrain station. The strong caramel scent keeps distributing from the wearable face jewelry, building up a sweet shelter for noses, providing a pure space for sweet deep breathing. Like the windows blocking rains, the scent blocker separates individuals from the chaotic odors, isolating people psychologically, providing safety and serenity.

Dan_Qian_Smell Rescue_7.jpg

San Francisco Caltrain Station



Sugar Dyson


The sugar geared by Dyson AirWrap (a set of hairdressing tools) creates disordered and aggressive movements during tasting process. The sugar “Dyson”  lives on its special connecter to the Airwrap engine. When it detects the danger from humans, it launches the engine and generates strong wind to resist the bite. People enjoy the dynamic process and feel the force of fight, hitting the skin, challenging the muscle. The design transfers the AirWrap into a sugar utensil, exploring how the movements affect tasting experience, reach the border between food and creatures.



Sugar Hunt


 The projects adding motions into sugar design bring a hunting experience to tasting moments. The sugar creatures with different personalities contribute to the communicable relationship between prey and predator. People begin to devote more emotion and time to sugar.



Taste as Insects


The project is a design that provides a sweet-tasting experience of insect view. Here the sugar works like a straw, an extension of our tongue, to get the sweet liquid from bags hung on the ceiling. Inspired by how people get maple syrup, the tasting process happened in a  public natural space, shifting tasters' roles to insects.



Desire Land

The project unified the idea of group tasting and sexuality, to play around the edge of sugar and body, desire and ethics. The sweet experience of the “Desire Land” project is a  metaphor of modern etiquette around sexuality. Sexual behaviors are regulated with privacy.


However, sugar changes the label of sexuality, providing a shelter, transferring it into  “tasting” experience.


In reward, the sugar with “humanity” becomes more charming. In this space, sex is open to the public as a form of sugar. People can not define it as a pure sexual experience or a pure tasting one. The boundary of sugar blurs, creating a new unity of sugar and body. 


 This is a collaborative project with Linya



Proposal Ring

The design called “Proposal Ring” consists of a set of sugar rings cyborg for marriage that grows on human hands. The main purpose of the project is to graft the sexual behavior into a tasting experience, emphasizing the new ritual of sexuality and marriage. The extra shapes of hands guide people to follow the licking actions, associating people’s minds with the desire of sex. 

When the desire for sweetness and sex was fed at the same time, the pleasure doubled. The sweetness transfers the sex preparation, a one-way pleasure delivering process, into an action pleasing both sides at the same time, which means one enjoys love, one enjoys sweet.

It is hard to tell what is the object: sugar, body, utensils or wearables. The experience could not be defined only as sexuality, meal or communication. In this case, the “sugar enhanced relationship between humans” suggests the fresh and enhanced ways of sensing pleasure. In this way, humans become the key element of sugar, transferring sugar into vivid biomechatronics.



In The End

My understanding of sugar keeps iterating. Each small project becomes a step pushing my research forward. The rule fitting my design process is “making as thinking”. My work is about responding to materials and forms, while using constraints as a catalyst for through exploration. I always have conclusions when making things, and then organize the ideas, picking up the most intriguing points. The conclusion of each process instigates new inspirations, merging previous thoughts with new perspectives, creating a continuous and rich storyline for my research.

The story of the sugar forest does not end here. It is a starting point for my next step of sweet imagination between humans and sugar. The thesis project provides me a base to start my own sugar exploration about social restrictions, supporting me with personalized research methods for design and thinking.