Sunday, 17 November 2013

Food, Design, Humanity - Łódź Design Festival

One of the highlight at Łódź Design Festival was the installation Food | Design | Humanity, curated by Sonja Stummerer and Martin Hablesreiter (Honey & Bunny)

Exhibition set up 

Three large tables with table sets, next to large format photographs, are waiting for visitors to the “Food | Design | Humanity” exhibition. Sonja Stummerer and Martin Hablesreiter as Honey & Bunny have used the tables to present their own interpretations of food design, eat design and eternal food (cultural background of food) processes.

The large, long rectangular tables are the designers’ variation on the monastery refectory table where the person’s place was strictly dependent on their position in the hierarchy. Just like altars, the three tables are covered with starched white tablecloths.

In the middle, the “holly table” is placed that alludes to the eternal food theme. With the two skeletons on it, the table is reminiscent of a Celtic tomb. Around the skeletons, according to the tradition of putting everyday items or food into graves, edible items carrying a message have been arranged: a gingerbread heart, a croissant, a bagel, etc. Honey & bunny have contributed to forming these objects, re-discovering them, preparing them, and they have built relationships with a grave.

The eternal food theme accompanied by the food design theme have been presented with a table with place settings for ten people. Each setting symbolises a different theme in the area of food design with allusions to five senses and food-related functions or situations, space, manufacturing, divisibility and being fit for transport. On the table, there are for example: a colourful circle of Polish sweets, a profile of a winter tyre used as a plate with cooked penne rigate pasta on it or a poorly cut torte.

The third table is devoted to the situations related to consuming food (eat design). The classic place setting with china tableware and cutlery is displayed in ten interpretations designed by Sonja Stummerer and Martin Hablesreiter. The military accessories remind of the history of the knife as a weapon while medical and laboratory instruments draw attention to the food processing aspect. Other items include a sandbox toy, personal care items and simple joinery and metalworking tools.

The need to design food is as old as the civilisation itself. Eating is not just about providing the body with necessary life-sustaining nutrients. It does not mean that people should live on pills or drips alone either. It is about consuming food that can be seen, touched, smelled, chewed, and that have a taste. This is why, since the beginning of humanity, we have been using imagination, creativity and innovation to change natural, basic products according to our desire. Humans have always been designing food.
This is where the large variety of everyday bread comes from – as it can be prepared according to an infinite number of recipes and processes, and comes in so many forms and colours.

Only few types of food provided by the nature land on a plate in their unchanged form and as a whole. Most of them are processed in one or another way before they are fit for consumption. Whether fruit, cereal or meat, each base product is processed to be edible, tasteful, transportable, and stay fresh for a reasonable time. During a year, before every meal, we cut, cook, mix or combine ingredients together more than a thousand times – i.e. we design food by giving a form to products that have been brought from the field or slaughterhouse.

Eating is not just a process of providing the body with carbohydrates, proteins and fats – it is consuming products and meals that have been designed and prepared for us. For centuries, raw pastry have been used for baking not just ordinary loaves of bread but also bagels, pretzels and croissants. A cylinder-shaped piece of cheese, a rectangular bar of chocolate, geometric form of fish fingers or curved peanut-flavoured corn chips – all this is the evidence that we deliberately give shape and form to the consumed food products.

From the human perspective, food products are the most fundamental designer items. People need edible items both to survive and to please their eyes. They are the most desired and also the most profitable consumer goods in the world. Every year, 10,000 new food products are launched in the market but qualified designers are never involved. On the contrary, food is designed everywhere and all the time: in the food industry and outside it; at small bakeries, households and large catering kitchens. All over the world, food is subject to creative processing, and it has been done for thousands of years.

As part of the “food | design | humanity” exhibition displayed in Łódź, designers from the Honey & Bunny productions group will show that designing food is an activity that creates our everyday life. Sonja Stummerer and Martin Hablesreiter will arrange designer items found at Polish and international supermarkets, bakeries, delicatessen stores, confectionery stores, canteens and bazaars with focus on three themes. Three installations created from food items will be displayed, each devoted to one of the three dimensions: design process, ritual of consumption and eternity. Food items will be arranged on three long tables to arouse joy or desire, in such a way that the design concept is equally obvious as an item’s functional or semantic value.

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