Food Mood is more than a book. Food Mood is that kind of adrenaline-fused atmosphere that one feels in a fine restaurant, buying produce at a farmer’s market, or even when kneading pizza dough. It’s the kind of atmosphere that one breathes in just by flipping through the pages of a book like this one.
“The term can’t be explained in just one mood: it’s the projection that gathers around food, but much more,” explains Stefano Maffei, an Associate Professor at Milan’s Polytechnic Institute and among the authors of the Electra book, which has just been published for the first time in English. “We tried to identify some of the thousands of cultural connections between food and culture, not just stopping with design but also seeking to describe some of the big social, artistic and economic movements that have to do with nutrition, product and art,” explains Barbara Parini, the book’s co-author.
It’s no accident that this book, a success in Italy and now translated, was written by two architects and designers. It’s the umpteenth proof of the intimate connection between the universe of food and that of the everyday objects with which we surround ourselves. There are two concepts that run through the book as a common denominator – “project” and “research”.
The image-rich volume touches on three topics. The first, FoodPeople, whose subtitle, Cooking =Designing? expresses a fundamental question, and the chapter features great names in cuisine like Jordi Butròn, Massimo Bottura, Davide Scabin, René Redzepi, Alex Atala and many others.
The section FoodProducts shows the work of the many ingenious designers whose aesthetics senses improve the human/object interaction in the kitchen. Some of the explored projects include the pacojet, to the spherication kit, to the optic glasses by Amout Visser to the Hot Plate by Ami Deach.
The most exciting part of the book, however, is the FoodExperiences – everything you ever wanted to know about food. This section examines global experiments and food projects like Recipease, the online food shop/cooking school created by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, or The People’s Supermarket, where a new kind of shop is transformed into a business co-run and managed by the consumers themselves. The EATaly concept is also covered – where Italy’s best products are all sold under one large roof in urban locations like Turin and New York. Or the Austrian chain, Mpresi, that challenges new avant-garde architects to design food emporiums from unusual spaces.
There are many stories of creative souls, like Spain’s Marti Guixè, who calls himself an “ex-designer” and whose life is dominated by a sincere obsession with food. His creations include the 1999 temporary restaurant, Flavored Stamps, and the Seed Safe, produced by Alessi in 2010. The Belgian artist Hilde De Decker has created Vegewellery – a lovely and surprising encounter between an aubergine and two silver rings, inspired by the question,”What happens to a vegetable in contact with a precious metal?”
The book also boasts the disturbing photos of the Tantalus dinner, conceived of by the Greek designer Ioli Sifakaki who set a table for twelve diners with porcelain tableware in the shape of human body parts: hands, shinbones, kneecaps, and the like.
Among the examined projects, there’s the Showfood book by the young, Dutch creative Franke Elshout, whose interest lies in “total food experiences”, or Marije Vogelzang's 'Eating Design'. Much more than a recipe book, it recounts the performances of the seven muscular young men that cook with a rare kind of savagery and almost eroticism. They use almost primal tools and techniques, which reminds us of a chef’s original function: transforming something raw into something cooked. The approach seems almost new – it makes cooking and cuisine feel less ascetic and much more sensual.
By Stefano Maffei and Barbara Parini
Published by Electa
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