Urban life

Play with Your Food

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Every child knows the admonition: “Don’t play with your food”. But honestly, everyone likes to play with their food – and if you play with your food, you can perceive it with fresh senses. Lina Meyer, a young food designer describes her work.

Hi, my name is Lina Meyer and in my project “Play with Your Food” I am developing unusual food concepts. I graduated in Graphic Design from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover. I have always liked cooking privately, and over time I realized that it would not be enough for me to be only a graphic designer. I didn’t want only to sit at a computer and design virtual worlds. I wanted to work with my hands, create something tangible. At first I thought I can do only this or that, but then a book by the eating designer Marije Vogelzang came into my hands, which did exactly that: it combined design and eating. Inspired by her ideas, I decided to write my B.A. thesis on “Eating Design”. That was the starting-point of the project.

Every child in Germany knows the admonition: “Don’t play with your food”. By omitting the negative form of “do”, the meaning of the admonition is reversed. Everyone likes playing with his food, whether it is combining the peas on his plate into geometrical forms or his way of eating a biscuit: crumbling, squishing, nibbling off the chocolate or removing it from the surrounding confection. These are all methods and needs pertaining to our food. Getting to grips with what we daily shovel into our mouths is, in a time of the absolute surplus of food, when hardly anybody can get his head around the composition of supermarket offerings, very important. Or so I think. I therefore design eating concepts that encourage people to treat again their natural eating habits playfully and find their own responses. Food serves to acquaint the participants in the project with certain information, a feeling or a theme.

It is mainly objects that are designed in the area of cooking/eating/cuisine. What I want to achieve in my project is to design the way of eating or the entire framework in which people eat. Not many designers have actually taken this approach. I see it as an exciting opportunity to make a theme so accessible to my guests that they take it in with their food. Perhaps it is this very personal approach that people feel is sometimes lacking in the fast-paced and often anonymous gastronomy branch.

I have already designed theme-related catering for various Hanover-based companies. I also like to work with friends, families, and children or invite guests who simply have an interest in taking part in a dinner.

At first glance the eating concepts may appear to be odd; they surprise, disconcert, yet also give pleasure and warmth and stimulate conversations, connect people. Simultaneously with the intake of food, the guests are invited to occupy themselves closely with the theme of the event. The content of each event is taken up with the design, the taste and the aroma of the meal and internalized in the truest sense of the word. The theme can be communication, inspiration, so as to become active and creative oneself, surprise effects, self-perception, habits, overcoming, sustainability, alienation, respect, identity or memory.

One project that combined many of these themes is “Play with Your Food Dinner”. It was a combination of many previous events that I had developed up to then and at the same time the presentation of my B.A. thesis. Guests could eat from the floor with their fingers, pluck their side dishes from the ceiling or harvest them from the sink. Those who wanted to could cook or tinker jewellery from radishes and peas or cutlery from carrots. The theme was to experience and taste the playful approach and its associated manners or bad manners with all the senses. Guests who didn’t rely on their taste buds were often fooled. At one station there was the same snack arranged and served in two different ways. Almost all the guests tasted a non-existent difference.
Lina Meyer
studied graphic design and is focusing now on food design. She presents her innovative concepts on her blog.

Translated by Jonathan Uhlaner
Copyright: Goethe-Institut Poland
January 2014

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