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What Design Can Do for Food

During the so-called break-out session organized by Premsela at the What Design Can Do conference, Honey & Bunny showed participants that food is anything but static.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 10-05-2012

A six-metre long wooden structure dominated break out room two where Premsela – the Netherlands Institute for Design and Fashion, hosted What Design Can Do for Food with Austrian designers Honey & Bunny (Martin Hablesreiter and Sonja Stummerer).

“After meeting the duo in Milan during the Salone del Mobile and seeing what they can do with food, we asked them to be part of this break-out session at What Design Can Do”, said Premsela director Els van der Plas.

Upon viewing the impressive ‘eating sculpture’ visitors seemed a little shocked to hear active participation was required, especially when placed at various angles, lying down, standing, sitting opposite one another or even above each other. The structure itself promoted interaction between participants, and if that hadn’t got them talking, a first course of fried lice and grasshopper certainly did. “This is the future of food”, explained designer Martin Hablesreiter.

Meals were served up on plates made of porcelain, biscuits, flatbreads and even kid’s toys, utensils such as surgical equipment, tools, and oversized cutlery only seemed to induce hilarity in the already intrigued dinner guests. Luckily, a traditional second course of Dutch national dish stamppot and a glass (or ashtray) of wine managed to calm everyone’s nerves.

So what message is this food experience trying to send? “This ‘eating sculpture’ proves that taste is all in the brain”, says Sonja Stummerer. "It rethinks the way we consume food." And indeed, ever since we were able to walk upright have we not consumed our meals in the same manner; from a plate with knife and fork? Aren’t there better, and certainly more fun ways of consuming our daily meals? These strange ways of eating allow consumers to really contemplate what and how they they usually eat. “We’re happy everybody’s having fun,’ concluded Hablesreiter. ‘We were a little afraid someone would say, ‘I don’t eat bugs!’”

Break-out sessions are part of the two-day What Design Can Do conference and touch on various subjects such as food, fashion, hygiene and crime. These sessions take a deeper look at pressing subjects with small groups of participants.