THE SPACE FOR TASTING FOOD / SHARING / FUNCTIONALITY AND AESTHETIC / FURNITURE / ARCHITECTURE
The dining-room table is the place where enjoy food, share, and celebrate while having something to eat and drink. The table area is a veritable universe populated by different objects designed to present and serve food. Both in the domestic sphere and at restaurants, on planes or on picnics in the country, the act of eating is always accompanied by an object ritual that varies according to the circumstances and may include the furniture –tables, chairs, lamps and so on– the salt cellar, the dinner service, the cutlery, the glassware, the tableware, etc. This is an area much more open to decoration than the kitchen, a space whose creations carry much greater symbolic weight. Objects here must not only fulfil a function –mainly as containers or for service– but also, at the same time, express culinary culture and status. That is why the dining-room is the ideal place for artistic interventions, decoration and customisation.
It is around the dining-room table that designers have made the greatest display of their collective imagination since the nineteen-nineties. On the one hand, we find designs for industry but, on the other, we also find rich interaction with the field of arts and crafts. In 1990, the prestigious Italian company of Driade produced Victoria, a complete home décor collection designed by Òscar Tusquets that includes glassware, tableware and cutlery. For its part, the German firm of WMF worked with Josep Lluscà, while Alessi teamed up with Lluís Clotet. Another well-known German firm, Rosenthal produced Landscape, the elegant dinner service designed by Patricia Urquiola, while Jaime Hayón, creative director at Lladró, worked with sophisticated Japanese porcelain and ceramic producers like Choemon.
Another interesting phenomenon is self-production. Many designers have decided to produce exclusive prototypes and limited series or, faced by the impossibility of serial production, to manufacture some of their designs for themselves. Sometimes the objects concerned are useful, but they are often formal experiments or limited productions. Ernest Perera set up the firm of Amor de Madre for just this purpose, while Marre Moerel manufactures artistic limited series from his own Madrid studio. The Luesma & Vega workshop, which makes glass plates, has enjoyed meteoric success since the firm began to produce articles exclusively for elBulli. Today, besides its own production, the firm also creates pieces for leading chefs from around the world who want to personalise their their tableware with plates designed specifically to serve a new recipe.
We find a more conceptual style of design in certain pieces by Emiliana Design Studio, subtle irony in the works of Curro Claret, díez+zeíd and so on, and experimental reflection in the work of Martín Azúa, an expert in “design for food”. All explore the boundaries between commerciality and quality products. They all demonstrate a social vocation in their use of design, a concern for the environment and an interest in eco-design, seeking materials that can be recycled and sending out awareness-raising messages. These are products designed for users more than for consumers, participative designs with which the user interacts, that aim to establish a dialogue between the object and the person who uses it.