De Culinaire Werkplaats | Thanks to Nicole Marnati.
Netherlands seas, The city, Spoons full of honesty, Surprise! Surprise!, Red are not movie titles but themes of the next eating Inspirations dinner-performance made in De Culinaire Werkplaats restaurant in Amsterdam, managed by the minds and hands of Marjolein Winjes, textile and visual artist, designer and action researcher and Eric Meursinge 3D designers and chefs. These days they are opening their showroom next the studio, where you can visit their edible collections, and buy delicatessen.
What lead towards your today’s recipe?
De culinaire werkplaats is a blend of a design studio and restaurant for contemporary and novel food and eating concepts at the intersection of food & art ….. and a few secret ingredients.
We are specialized in the dinnerplate of the future on which the meat and fish component will have a less dominant position. Vegetables, fruits and specialty grains are our leading character. DWC opened few times ago but the idea comes from years.
Going out for dinner became a frustrating experience. Most menus are look a likes, hardly any vegetables can be found on the plate or vegetables are reduced to artistique lines and dots, we were trying to change our lifestyle and start a research about food experience able to satisfy our health and curiosity. We started to study textures, colours, food and taste history, chemical process, cultural and political view about food, cooking techinicians.
We have three signatures:
- black (first theme, and now still a communication trigger)
- edible vegetable and fruit paper
- the motto food equals fashion: what we wear/eat reveals our identity
Marjolein, you say that ‘we’re shaking up the way people think about food’. Is it a revolutionary goal? Or do you just want your typical client to expand his horizons about food and the way he uses to feed himself?
Revolutionary is a very big notion. Our ambition is to inspire people in such way that they really change/improve their (eating) habits. Or put it better, I want to inspire them to make changes in their personal lifestyle, as actions speak louder than words. It is about much more than expanding horizons about food. Every spoon of food you eat affects the world around you and yourself.
We don’t want tell to people how to live but suggest a personal adventure that we suggest in our dinnerplates. We love be emotionally in touch with our guests through dishes. What we do is to create an atmosfere or performance which aims to create more critical consumers and producers, which provokes a change of lifestyle and perhaps even a new approach on food design.
We can say, without talking about a ‘current trend’ that Dutch food designers are focusing more on the food act rather than on a transformation of food as a matter. Do you think you are part of this kind of design filosophy? If so, do you think that this has to do with your nationality?
We do not feel much kinship with most of the Dutch food designers. We stepped into the field of food design/food & art with a very clear goal/focus/ambition to inspire people to reflect on their eating habits and their personal lifestyle. And on the other hand to create new delicatessen, dishes, snacks, and new ways of eating.
We entered the field of food design because we ourselves experienced what the impact is of food and eating And our work is about more than food and eating only. Our focus is on both food + act. It’s applied and conceptual.
We take inspirational concepts like ‘emotions’, ‘black’, ‘water’ to look at food and eating. We use these concepts to guide our creative perspective to find new tastes, shapes, textures, structures, etc. and sometime even new ways of eating. We use the restaurant to commission ourselves to create new food, So every month we work on a new theme, which we translate to a so-called eat’inspiration. This are always 5 dishes (1x eat.cocktail, 2x savourish and 2x sweetish).
Every month we start with a new project, a new eat’inspiration. It develops during the month in dialogue with our customers/guests. People are sitting in our studio, so they see everything we do.
We also changed the restaurant routines so people become part of our working process.
We feel more connection to Scandinavian design, as our motto is less = more. There are designers who state that you cannot design food as it is already perfectly shaped by nature, you can only design food from the verb to eat. This statement is only correct if you define the notion food in a very limited way. The notion food means also a meal, and a meal is most of the time a creation/constructed by menkind.
In recent years food has become one of the main characters of the design scene and of culture in general. However, speaking about ‘food design’ still confuses many people. especially those who are not professionals. Most of the time, the way food is plated can be is midstaken, which means to conceive this discipline as a mere aesthetic act. Your work, which is more radical and deep, is understood by people who follow your workshop, studio, restaurant? Do you ever feel frustrated?
We agree that ‘food design’ is a notion which is confusing. It’s a blurry concept, because a lot of disciplines enter the field aiming at different results (design with food, design for food, interior design for food spaces, etc. etc.). But this doesn’t matter if non professionals do not understand the notion ‘food design’. Most of the time people ask us to explain what food concepts and food design are. To our surprise a lot of people understand what we do, why we do it. They question it sometimes, but that is normal.
I am never frustrated when people do not understand my work. I learn from their questions and remarks. I am only sad when I meet people that consider meat on the plate is a civil right and can not open up for a new eating/dinner experience.
We were fascinated by the “obsessive” research (in a positive sense) of Marjolein about plant fibers. You have presented in many exhibitions some tissues, even edible clothing made out of some plants, with really innovative and interesting results. How food and fashion are related? Do you have the ambition to take these unique clothes to a market of elite fashion, or are they just pieces of art?
We have a motto: food equals fashion, as what you eat and what you wear reveals something about your identity. It showcases who you are or want to be. Housing, eating and clothing are 3 of the primary needs in peoples life. Due to economical welfare these primary needs for a lot of people have changed. It’s not about survival or protection any longer, but about who you are. It are your tools of communication. Every spoon of food you eat and every piece of clothing you wear affects people, animals and environment.
Food & Fashion have a lot in common. Marjolein is also fiber artist and explains that food design/art also is about fibers, dietary fibers. So she translated issues of food design to fashion/textile design and vice versa.
We translated our vegetables papers project to recreate textures in which fashion, food and sustainability match each other.
At this very moment we are able to make some paper/fabric which is strong enough for a sewing machine. But we consider it to be pieces of art which tell a story about food, fashion and sustainability. Perhaps it’s an idea to create a dress for Lady Gaga.
For 2012 we’re working on new eat inspirations on landscapes and architecture and we are working on a paper about architecture, food and fashion.