The shaping of a meal

(Original article by Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen at bobedre.dk, translation by Nicholas Frickelton)

NORM.ARCHITECTS

More than three years ago we started toying with the idea of a new tableware set. Since then cups, bowls and plates have dragged tables, lamps and entire restaurants with them. Behind the concept of the most basic tableware lie fundamental thoughts about the presentation of a meal. Here we share with you our thoughts and give you a peek under the skirt.

Tableware has many functions. For hygienic reasons it keeps our food off the table. It transports our food from the kitchen to the table. It stores our food and keeps it cold, warm, or simply separated. It brings out the flavors and colors of our food.  It decorates the table, sets the mood and determines our expectations for what’s to come.

In the presentation of a meal there is a mutual influence between tableware and food. Just as the tableware changes character depending on what ingredients are served upon it, so too the taste and visual experience of the food changes depending on whether it is served on porcelain, wood, slate, metal or glass. In other parts of the world there are different traditions for shapes and materials used in the kitchen and on the table. Our vision is to create a set of tableware whose materials and shapes can be combined in various ways to accommodate the specific dining experience you wish to present to your guests. We want our set to be adaptable to all kitchens and dining experiences in the world. We want it to be both simple, raw and rustic, yet refined, delicate and classic. I should feel at home in both harmony and disharmony. Finally, the set should allow for both basic and challenging presentations of a meal, depending on the eyes and hands preparing it.

Different ingredients have different shapes. Round, oval, oblong, liquid or solid. The art of food preparation is a dance of shapes and colors, where the chef combines and builds food and service; the chef alternates between painter and sculptor. Here, the tableware should fit into various roles. The individual pieces should be like canvas of different character. Simple and anonymous, dynamic in form, or deep and sensual in its tone. The tableware should go well with Spring’s light nuances, Summer’s deep tones and the decay of Fall; it should frame all types of food regardless of shape, color and preparation.

Wood gives warmth and texture. It has a soft acoustic range and ages with grace. Glass gives clarity and reveals contents.  It is fine and delicate. Porcelain is cooling and clean. It highlights the food’s own colors, and the range of glazes is a universe unto itself. Slate swallows up color, letting the eye only see changes in nuance and texture. It is raw and robust and creates a nice contrast if combined with delicate white porcelain. Into the chef’s dance of food and tableware shapes go also the inherent characteristics of these materials, as well as the context between the textures of the ingredients and materials.

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