‘The Wish To Design Food Is As Old As Human Civilization’

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Photo: Arun Sehrawat

On day 1 of THiNK2013, in a session titled ‘The Look of the Bite: Why Food Takes the Shape It Does’, Austrian architects-turned-food designers Martin Hablesreiter and Sonja Stummerer talked about the hidden meanings and symbolisms behind how we design food and the way we eat it. The duo felt that the way we consume food has a lot to say about who we are as a people and where we come from.

During their presentation, Hablesreiter remarked, “The wish to design food is as old as human civilization”. When using the phrase ‘design of food’, the duo meant all the decisions made during the preparation of food that we eat.

Hablesreiter and Stummerer unravelled interesting facts about how the texture of food matters to humans more than its taste or smell, and how certain colours of food make them seem more pleasant or palatable as compared to others.

The duo also threw light on how the design of food has a lot to do with its functionality. Most food items are designed in a way to make them easier for transportation, consumption and mixing with other accompanying food. For example, big cheeses are shaped round to make them easier to roll and transport. Through numerous illustrations, Hablesreiter and Stummerer also highlighted how food carries certain symbolic meanings and value.

The session saw other quirky trivia as well such as how the fork was conceived of during the Renaissance period for ladies of nobility, who feared eating berries with their bare hands lest it dirty their expensive silk dresses. However, the fork wasn’t used for the subsequent two centuries as the Vatican considered its shape to be similar to the symbol of the devil.

By Shashank Shah

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