FOOD AS AN OBJECT OF DESIGN
Martí Guixé began his journey with food in the 1990s as industrial designer. His experimental and speculative approach to food would ultimately transform the field of food design. In his work he poses the fundamental question, what would it mean for food to be treated as any other mass produced product despite its transitory nature?
Alfred Barr Jr. 's diagram “Cubism and Abstract Art” (1935) acts as a point of departure for Guixé, in which Barr charts the sources and evolution of modern art. In “10 Years” (2007) and “+10 Years” (2017), Guixé charts the sources and evolution of food design mapping his work chronologically in the first decade, and then second decade. Central to his diagram is ex-design, a term he coined to bid farewell to the limitations of design and instead begin working beyond the boundaries of the discipline.
The first and most infamous of Guixé’s edible objects is “SPAMT” (1997), a work that he would continue to develop twenty years later. A traditional Catalan snack of bread, tomatoes, olive oil and salt. Guixé noticed the difficulty of eating while on the laptop, and transformed the snack into an object that could be eaten in one bite, even going as far as modifying the size of the tomato to the person’s mouth. The “Techno Tapas'' series responded to the rise of the internet and the new behaviours that came with it, and even considered the possibility of consumption underwater. In “Tapas Pasta'' (1997) Guixé’s turned pasta into a finger food that could be shared and dipped in different sauces.
The lack of interest from the designworld compelled Guixé to turn towards art. The exhibition space became a space of exploration and experimentation. Guixé’s first performance “SPAMT Factory''(1997) was due to the insistence of a gallerist that the edible object be produced. At the time he did not want to do that, clarifying that “[he was] not interested in cooking.” Instead, he invited his friends for an impromptu live performance producing 500 of the spamt concepts in an assembly line.
Guixé’s would later be credited for bringing performance into the design world. In “Food Karaoke Barcelona'' (2001), he creates a set of circumstances that would instruct exhibition visitors to create their own spamt concepts based on video. Seed Safe (2010), a place to store seeds, and I Cakes, a visualization of the ingredients within a singular cake, are such works that required instruction alongside the actual artifact. Oftentimes, creating new typologies is “not intuitive and difficult to commercialize” Guixé says.
His experimentations with business models would bring together the performative, interactive and instructive aspects of his work. “Food Facility'' (2005) was a makeshift restaurant with no kitchen allowing visitors to order from 15 different takeout restaurants. A central station, inspired by google’s colors, would centralize and organize each table's orders from the different restaurants. Lapin Kulta Solar Kitchen (2011) prioritizes a minimal and almost vanishing architecture when building his outdoor solar kitchen in line with his motto “consider everywhere as indoor” as a source of inspiration.
Marking his twenty years with food design “The Ex Designer Project Bar” (2015 - 2018) combines Guixé’s love for interior design and food design as he considers the relationship between fiction, technology and design. Guixé envisioned an empty interior that would be 3D printed and then, once complete, shift to the printing of food. The bar, not dependent on people actually coming in, is a look into “business models'' as an artistic discipline.
Although the bar interior was not completed by the time Guixé intended, and food printing technology still lags far behind his vision, he printed the first digital synthetic spamt concept “Digital Spamt” in 2017, mapping his process in the Octavi Rofes Diagram (2017) from 1997, with the initial spamt concept, to 2037. “Digital Food” (2017), a speculative project, foresees a future where “food won’t be dependent on agriculture or tradition but rather architecture and design thinking,” Guixé says.
After two decades in food design, countless experimentation and sometimes failures, the only traces of Guixé’s edible objects exist in books and the media he garnered. Impermanence is very much in line with Guixé’s true spirit, approaching the possibilities of design always through a playful, rebellious and formidable lens. When approaching a project or work of Guixé’s we must remember his infamous quote “I hate objects.”
With 25 years on food design, Martí Guixé (b. 1964) is considered the pioneer of this field. Formed in Barcelona and Milan as an interior and industrial designer, Guixé refers to himself however as an “ex-designer” in a statement against the limitations of traditional designers’ roles. With his non-conventional humorous gaze, Guixé endeavored the work with food as an object of design considering its ambit and presentation. He has published various books on the discipline, and has been awarded numerous prizes for his contribution to the field of design. His work has been exhibited around the world including at the MoMa in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Since 2014, he has founded the study program of food design in the Scuola Politecnica di Milano, SPD and has been working there as a professor. He is based between Barcelona and Berlin.