Columbia College Chicago

— Opening the first time traveling restaurant in the world while teaching speculative design

Catacumbias is the first time traveling restaurant in the world, located in downtown Chicago.

As part of the Interactive Arts and Media (IAM) curriculum at Columbia, The Time Travel Agency alongside Lauren Liss taught a semester of futures design, rapid prototyping, and immersive design. 

The goal of our collaboration was to introduce IAM students to futuremaking and to experimental methods of design. Together with Lauren we imagined 12 weeks of games, theory, rapid-prototyping of experiences, and working towards exhibiting our creation during Manifest, Columbia’s annual student driven festival that showcases graduating student work.

Catacumbias is a restaurant where one could have meals (there is the three course menu, the five course menu, and the infinite one), albeit each meal is aimed to absorb confidence and resiliency as nutrients at different times of one’s life.

There are cards to collect from each menu sampled (see below), tokens to trade (see below), QR codes to catch, a physical prototype of the underground location (see below), and even a Catacumbias videogame protoype (see above).

The restaurant is open in Chicago during full moons at an undisclosed location. It is accessible using the CTA, and reservations start during the previous full moon. It is currently not possible to dine at Catacumbias outside Chicago.

The student’s journey documented: learning about process

Rapid prototyping during the 12 weeks

The restaurant gets a name, a 3D render modeling different rooms, marketing ads, brand guidelines, and even a physical prototype of the restaurant’s location underground.

The restaurant’s opening during MANIFEST, Columbia’s annual student driven festival that showcases graduating student work

The restaurant included proceedings to try the three course meal, and ended with a photooth to commemorate the moment (and avoid taking pictures while “eating”)

Tokens to acquire at different stages of the meal.

Time traveling cards, to collect after sampling every dish! (Each showcase a scary thing to overcome with confidence)

QR codes to get cards later with a phone, in case one decided to visit Catacumbias not wanting to touch anything.