"Why do we eat with cutlery?" ask Sonja Stummerer and Martin Hablesreiter of design studio Honey & Bunny. The answer – which goes beyond simply keeping our hands clean – is to be found in the pair's new book Eat Design, published by Metro Verlag Wien.
The book, the result of studying eating behaviours for over a decade, questions practices and norms around consuming food, including tools, utensils and dress codes.
Why do we eat in specially designed dining rooms or restaurants and not in parking spaces? Why do we sit on chairs and benches and why do we dress up for dinners? asks Hablesreiter.
The Austrian design duo's fascination with eating lies in how it has shaped our lives: “Design issues about food and eating can determine the lifestyle of entire societies," says Stummerer. Initially trained as architects, the pair regularly stage ‘eat design’ performances and have curated exhibitions exploring the design of food.
Ordinary things such as the design of dishes and cutlery not only influence how we eat but have a deep impact on life in general, they believe. In designing dining room furniture, for example, designers are creating objects that fit into their culture and their preconceived notions of eating behaviours.
The use of a napkin, a fish knife or a soup spoon shows who we are and where we come from. When we teach our children the perfect way to handle a knife and a fork, we are at the same time instilling in them the basic principles of our social order, explains Hablesreiter.
Contact the authors here to order a copy of Eat Design.