Marjie Vogelzang does not like to give the plates only a beautiful shape. The great hoax of our times for the Dutch food is Marje design. The food has a perfect shape by Nature, what matters for the Amsterdan “eating designer” it’s ” to think of food in different cultures, food history, the realization of food, transportation, agriculture, the ‘industrialization of food, psychology of eating. ”
Marje believed it so much that within a few years she has founded two restaurants Proef (one in Rotterdam, the other in Amsterdam), organized a study, participated in exhibitions throughout the world, written two books ( Love to Eat Lunch Box ) and had two babies.
One of these babies is still (nearly) in the belly of Marjie, that just a minute before his maternity stop,she was glad to talk with us about projects, thoughts and love.
Uninitiated wildely known you as a creative and innovative food designer. But you’re not. Since food is perfectly
design by nature you consider yourself as an eating designer, who’s investigating the content and the background. It’s a fascinating thought. What if a food designer would became an eating one? What he/she Have to do? In order to answer to wish could you tell us a sort of Decalouge a food designer must follow to became an eating designer?
That’s an interesting question. Well it’s all about giving things a name and I thought the name food design didn’t fit me. But sometimes I’m not sure about eating designer either.
What I think an eating designer should explore is the full potential and meaning of the subject of food and eating. I think an eating designer should look beyond only the obvious visual aspects and taste aspects of food. These obvious choises are making designers to make something that looks nice, tastes good etc. But I think the world of food is so much larger and touches everybody’s life and therefore is far more interesting to explore. Think about food in different cultures, food in history, the making of food, the transportation of food, agriculture, the industrialization of food, the psychology of eating. These are just a few examples of inspiring subjects that can be explored and used. Also the meaning of the word design can be discussed. I think the word should be used as: ‘Creative thinking’ when it comes to eating design instead of: giving something a nice shape.
Design as a shaping device is a tool. Not the final goal. The final goal is creative thinking and to communicate the creative idea you need esthetics as a tool.
Following this idea of “what if”, if you were the rector of an Eating Design Faculty what will be the main subject?
I think we could make a program according to my 7 points of inspiration:
- Technique/ material
It’s been less than a year that you’ve founded your second Proef in Amsterdam. This project seems more linked with
your Philosophy of food with more plants and organic food than a design approach. What is changing in your work?
I founded Proef Amsterdam 5 years ago. At the moment it’s a restaurant in it’s own and the design studio moved out to somewhere else.
I wanted it to be a relaxed place how I personally would like a restaurant to be. I got a bit bored by formal dinners but also by overdesigned dinners! I wanted things to be fun and easy drinking coffe from empty jars. That’s what works for a restaurant. It’s almost impossible to run a highly conceptual idea as a restaurant and I would also find it boring.
Speaking about organic, there’s a lot of “buzz” about it and lot of speculation. According to you what is missing in oursociety to reach a good level of organic approach?
I think we’ll get there but it need time. The government should lower taxes on organic produce and give more support. Eventually things shouldn’t be labeled ‘organic’ anymore but ‘non-organic’ should be labeled and be the odd choice.
Let’s talk about your special projects and performance. The one I loved the most is Pasta Sauna at Performa 09,
inspired by Tommaso Marinetti Futuristic Kitchen, were you created a space where enjoying a bowl of freshly cooked pasta, while the boiling water steams the surroundings, creating a sauna and music with pasta machine turned is magic boxes. Turning over the Futuristic concept what you think is the Future of Kitchen?
The futurists were great! Very radical. Sometimes too much. But they did put energy in things. I’m not sure what the future of the kitchen will be. It seems as if there is a kind of schizophrenia going on the kitchen. On one hand we want easy, fast and ready cooked meals to use during the hectic week. On the other hand more and more people start growing their own veggies, buy extremely professional kitchware and read cookbooks as if they were porn.
They experiment with all kinds of ways of preparations like smoking food, preserving, drying food.
These two extremes are both going strong and maybe they meet in the middle.
I can imagine the future of the kitchen to become a more ritualistic place. We don’t actually need it to obtain food but we go there to prepare food as a spiritual act. To connect with the earth and with the people we love.
More and more people start growing their own veggies, buy pro kitchware and read cookbooks as porn.
You stated that “Food goes to the stomach, but it can also activate the brain and can rouse strong memories and emotions” and you experiment food memory world serving World War II recipes to people who survived the Rotterdam Hunger Winter during the war stimulating their memories from more than 60 years ago. What are your very first taste memories? Is there any food or dishes that immediately recall your past?
I was speaking to a young journalist about taste memories not so long ago and she said that you remember everything you have put in your mouth as a young child. That doesn’t have to be food. The way of getting to know the world and materials is to put things in your mouth. That happens before you use language and is a very intruiging fase. When she said that she challenged me to imagine the taste of wood in my mouth. Of plastic, hard and soft, of textile and sand. When you think about a material, many times you can recall how this material feels in your mouth. I was very fascinated by her story and since I’m very much aware of materials and before I touch or even see them I know how they feel in my mouth. Wire, a plastic phone, rib-velvet (I’m a 70’b baby).
Food memories are very closely linked to smell. Sometime they surprise you. Going into someones house and suddely you catch the smell of grandma’s bedroom. I have food memories on these frozen lollypops that you can suck the taste out of. They were just lemomade packed in plastic sticks to freeze yourself.
After your famous book about your work Eat Love, you have published HET BROODTROMMELBOEK a book about lunchboxes. What were your typical lunchboxes when you were a child? What do you hated eat when you were young and what are the flavours that you learn to taste?How will be your son lunchbox?
I started on the lunchboxbook when my daughter turned 4 and had to go to school. Suddenly I saw myself standing in the kitchen making the same boring sandwiches as everybody else does.So I decided to make a book full of ideas.
It’s an inspirational book that can make you think a bit different about the lunchbox. You can also use the content to do together with your child or as party ideas.
I only took a lunchbox with me when I was 12 +. We used to live close to my primary school so I went home for lunch which I hated because I felt like I missed all the important things over lunchtime at school. I hated to have ‘appelstroop’ (A kind of dutch Apple jelly) on my bread because the bread would suck it in and eventually I would get all dry. So I never give that to my daughter to school.
Of course I don’t make crazy lunchboxes for her every day (Hey, I’m a working mother too!)
But I do like to add something nice for her like some olives in a separated cup with a kind of party skewer. Or I tie a ribbon around her box like it’s a present. It can be simple but it is a way of communicating with your child.
You say that ” There are stories upon stories behind every facet of that plate in front of you, where the food came from, who made it, how they made it, where they learned it, why they do it, where you’re eating it, and what all of it means.” Have you ever think about creating a book about food and plates stories ?
It would be interesting to do that but I think there are other people much better in doing something like that!
Did you have time to go out dining or it’s something that deals with your past? There’s some place ( present or past) you liked the most?
I’m not sure what you mean with ‘something that deals with your past?’I used to never have money to go out dining when I was a student. But I have caught up since :)
A dining experience is so much influenced by the people that join you, the way you feel and how the atmosphere is that it’s hard to give an answer. I have very good memories of a restaurant in Lebanon where I was with some remarkable people and where we tasted every single thing on the menu and then moved to another table full of delicious desserts. Every bite was a new adventure!
Usually we asked a recipe to every person we get in touch with. Could you tell us one?
I will attach a picture from the lunchboxbook. It’s not a recipe just a hint for young parents.
Take a pen, draw a mobile phone on your childs banana. Give it to them to take to school.
The way of getting to know the world and materials is to put things in your mouth.
Essen is interested knowing how our guest eat, what is your daily food? Do you have any particular obsession or way to prepare?
I like simple food. I have this vegetable subscribtion from a local farm getting me a surprise bag of veggies every week so it’s nice to be forced to be creative with that.
Now I’m pregnant I do eat a bit different.
I love vietnamese food.
What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects?
My first upcoming project is giving birth in about 4 weeks. (Actually this interview is the last thing I’m doing before plugging out!)
Giving birth and having children is very inspiring to me and very close to my philosophy as an eating designer. Food and love are linked together. They are the first to things that a mother gives her child.Then in autumn I will be back with some big plans.I’m being the guest editor of design indaba Magazine’s food edition and I’ll go to south Africa to promote and do some lectures. We are doing a food event in Hong KongI’m working on an exhibition in TaiwanWe’ll do some events in Moskou and Hungaria.I have plans for at least 2 new books so I have to find some time to do that too.