Betony Vernon

Bruxelles, Ilaria Dozio | 28 January 2013

Images 1-2 by Veronica Gaido per Fondazione Henraux© - Betony Vernon during the finalization of Origin Chair. Its shape represents the archetype of the meaning of life and it is the result of an intuition appeared in the artist's mind on a hot summer afternoon. It was created in just one month. | Img. 3 by Veronica Gaido per Fondazione Henraux© - Origin Chair exhibited at Triennale in Milano: number 1 of a limited edition of 8 pieces. The fusion between art and design in the sculpture is an adaptation of the monumental work - about 3 m. high - on which the artist is currently working. | Img. 4 by Veronica Gaido per Fondazione Henraux© - A view of the marble quarry | Img. 5 Erminio Cidonio and Hans Arp - Henraux Foundation | Img. 6-8-9-10-11 by Lara Giliberto© - Some pleasure objects designed by Betony Vernon | Img. 7 Cover of the book The Boudoir Bible by Betony Vernon published by Rizzoli International | Img. 12 Portrait of Betony Vernon by Lara Giliberto© | Thank to Beverely Luckings

Sex and food are both difficult to represent visually, if you don't mean to do pornography or recipes. However, there are important elements which connect them. Both are primary needs, they both happen through an "incorporation of the object" (or penetration), they are both related with seduction and luxury.

Betony Vernon is the most beautiful and clear voice regarding sex we can listen in the artistic field. She doesn't work with food, but there are constant references to food and taste in the objects she creates.
In this meeting the American artist and sex anthropologist, who turned seductiveness in her stylistic choice, explores the exciting short circuit between art, sex and food.

Jewellery designer. Mentor and star of a successful TV series about bondage and love. After the success of her sculptures at the group exhibition Kama. Sex & Design at Triennale in Milano (still ongoing), Betony Vernon encloses her philosophy in the book The Boudoir Bible, published a few days ago by Rizzoli

"Allowing men and women to share and taste the maximum pleasure" has always been her mantra since the American studies in History of Arts, until the professional debut in Italy, where she earned a master's degree in Industrial Design at Domus Academy and worked with fashion design brands like Missoni, Ferré and Lagerfeld, who chose her as his muse and collaborator. She owns a breathtaking beauty, an incendiary hair, a mannequin physique and an absolutely glamour aura: Vernon has a gift for expressing complex things on sexology with that admirable synthesis that can be provided only by art. Maybe this is how she manages to deal with hard materials like marble and metal and transform them into soft and light objects, like a second skin. You can see it in her collection of erotic jewellery Paradise Found, precious ornaments of organic forms, an ode to senses for our eyes lust. And not only, they are adored by sex symbols and actresses like Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga for their irresistible sado-chic look. You can see it n the giant sculptures, Origin and Origin Chair, created in cooperation with Fondazione Henraux for the exhibition at Triennale, where the Marmo Statuario del Monte Altissimo, the most precious marble in the world, takes the sinuous shape of a powerful and primary force, paradigm of a natural generating vitality, in opposition to the cyber-virtual world with no physical contact, anorexic and anaprhodisiac. 

Art has often put food in contact with sex, passing through the difficult aspects which bind both, so that today it almost seems to be a natural combination. Cinema often did this well, just think of the hard egg used as a pleasure instrument in The Empire of Senses by Nagisa Oshima. So we could observe that food and sex are still a penetration of our body...

They both stimulate all of our senses, including hearing. Like in food, all the senses are stimulated: aromas, consistencies, taste, even sound (crispy!) can excite or disgust.

In the East consistency is essential for the choice of a meal...

Consider the perception of slimy: for us it's not very sensuous, with few exceptions like oysters for example. Or Natto, which I adore, it's a bit slimy and it has a sperm aftertaste, and it also smells like it.. I could live on Natto and brown rice, it’s a very sexy food.

A food you never get sick of
In addition to Natto, all steamed things or fried food without too much oil.. Oysters are known to be aphrodisiac, they actually contain lots of zinc and magnesium. they help replenish energy.

Is there any kind of food which helps to make love?
To make love you need to feel good, to feel good you also need to eat good. If you eat a portion and a half of carbonara you probably won’t think of making love.

Even if one doesn't want to deal with it, the topic of eroticism and pornography is always there.

Pornography is the cold performance of sex and it's not erotic at all. In my book I call them pornivors, they are people whose maniac aspect slaughters and destroys Eros. Sex means losing yourself in the completeness of sensations. Men tend to turn it into a performance, with an obsession for athletic and chronometric parametres which are punitive and counterproductive. One of the goals of The Boudoir Bible is to break the pseudo-myths of sex, which often annihilate pleasure.

You are very attracted by the idea of eternity and by matter, but you are still very close to the fashion world, an ephemeral world..

I want to surround myself with beautiful things, it's a pshysical need, fashion is an endless source. I agree with Doestojevskij: beauty will save the world. Grotesque and shock value are not for me. I love going shopping for fabrics to have clothes made by the tailor, even if my wardrobe is filled with designer clothes: I personally know many great fashion talents and I support their work.

Your work could be defined as de luxe design for the pleasure of all senses. There is an ancient connection between luxury, lust and pleasure: in the game of ethimological references between latin and anglosaxon languages, we find such meanings as desire, aboundance and its perversion which is waste...
When we make love with savoir fair there is no waste, on the contrary, there is an increase of energy, a gain, an abundance. I told about Savoir Faire in my book Boudoir of Sex, describing how it’s important to move your body and intimate parts with savoir fair, to seduce and make love for entire days… Sex is not a waste of energy and it can bring you love.. Deep love is luxury, you don’t often fall in love.

How many times did you fall in love?
A few times.. And yes, I always live in love. I have a great sense of universal love. I believe that if we act with love, love comes back to us and rewards us.

Natto is a Japanese food obtained from fermented soybeans. The leavening of natto-kin produces its typical slimy and stringy substance.
The consistence is slimy and stringy, it has a strong and peculiar smell. 
Tradionally Natto is eaten for breakfast. It's an exceptionally healthy food for the immune system and the gastro intestinal system, it also helps blood coagulation and keeps low the level of cholesterol. It's rich in protein and contains vitamins K.

To make it, you need to use young soy beans, let them rest in water for 15-20 hours and steam for 6 hours (or 2 in a pressure cooker). The famous Bacillus subtilis, also known as nato-kin, is then added to the beans, which are then let to ferment for one day at 40°C. At this point, the aging process will take place in the fridge at 0°C for a few days.



40 gr buckwheat
4 cups dashi
2 full tablespoons of natto
a handful of wakame beans 
2 small blocks of tofu
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon of miso

How to

Boil buckwheat in broth for about 15 minutes. Then at a lower heat add natto, mixing for about two minutes, and add miso and wakame beans, after cooking them in saltl-free water. Mix and let rest for two minutes.
Add finely cut tofu. Serve with grated garlic.

For more recipes with Natto we recommend you the blog

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