Cecilie Elisabeth Rudolph is a Danish textile, print and material designer/artist. In 2014, she graduated from BA Textile Design with a specialism in print, at Central Saint Martins’ School of Art and Design in London. Cecilie showed at Milan Design Week 2015 with her projects: Food as an Image and Velbekomme.
The first one is a collection of printed and experimental textile designs used in a multiple of settings - such as fashion, interior and set design - inspired by Danish food and dining culture: the project combines two very different fields - food and textiles - that Cecilie loves. Velbekomme - literally "Bon Appétit" in Danish - is a more conceptual and experimental project raising questions about food waste and consumptions: the idea involves experimental approaches to raw and unexpected materials but which essentially all can be eaten. Cecilie is suggesting ideas of how to use food waste materials, such as fish skin in a new way by translating her design motifs onto the skin giving it a second life.
Fine Dining Lovers had the opportunity to meet her and ask some questions about her food-related work and projects.
How did your passion for food art start?
Since I was little girl, I have had a huge interest in food - especially when it came to cooking and eating it. As bedtime reading I read cookbooks and Jamie Oliver quickly became my hero. I took a foundation [course] in cooking at Chichester College in the south of England. After struggling and finding myself “crying” my way through towers of onions, I realized that I didn't need to become a chef to express my passion for food. It was especially when I moved to London that I found out the many possibilities and areas around the topic; food. Food is aspiring in so many new and unusual ways and has gone from being a vital source of nourishment to an experimental and unexpected material as well as inspiration source within fields such as fashion, art and design. I find this development, the emerged focus on food and the many food related trends currently occurring to be very interesting. For me it opens up for playful constellations and possibilities also within my own field; textiles and other cross sections, and how I can develop my ideas in a new way working with food myself.
How does food influence your life and work?
Food is one of my biggest passions in life. It is influencing my everyday life hugely – it can be everything from trying out new recipes at home, visiting food market and restaurants or going to food-oriented events and pop-ups. I think about food all the time and I use most of my money and spare time to enjoy this hobby. Food has over the last couple of years also grown from being only my personal interest to also influencing my professional work. The two projects Food as an Image and ‘Velbekomme’ (meaning bon appétit in Danish) was developed in my last year studying BA Textile Design at Central Saint Martins in London and was the final result of my graduation project. Both projects are based on my personal passions for food as well as for textiles. So in this case it was the first time really letting food influence my professional work. I wanted to combine two fields close to my heart and let them influence each other in a unique way.
Let's talk about your last project Velbekomme: why fish skin?
Nordic cooking is particularly popular at the moment and, with that in mind, the inspiration behind the project ‘Velbekomme’ was explored within my own heritage of Danish food and dining culture. ‘Velbekomme’ is a conceptual project and involves experimental approaches to uncommon materials but essentially which all can be eaten. I have interpreted my inspiration sources into designs and made choices to use different materials and techniques based on my inspiration – I wanted to stay very true to the source e.g. we eat a lot of fish in Scandinavia and therefore the beautiful “material” of fish skin became very interesting to experiment with. At the same time, I also want to suggest ideas of how to use food waste in a new way, such as fish skin and vegetable peels. It then becomes new substrates, adding a new eating and dinning experience and shows how, for example, fish skin is giving a second life. The skins comes from a Norwegian smoke house in London, ‘Hansen & Lydersen’ and therefore have a natural golden color from the smoke, were as others I have vegetable dyed in beetroot juice to give it a slightly different appearance. The skins are then dried the old fashion way in salt and later worked on by engraving and laser cutting my design patterns into the skin. My textile knowledge is influencing the appearance of the food pieces and the translation of the design motives onto food especially in the case of The Edible Lace. I have made a mold that resembles a fabric texture and ingredients like beetroot, porridge and flour are then mixed into a paste and then baked in the oven transforming it into a new edible material: The Edible Lace. This lace piece is then served on a piece of rye bread as an extravagant take on a decorative Danish classic “Smørrebrød” (The Danish Open Sandwich).
What food artists, or general artist/photographer, have influenced your work?
For the projects ‘Food as an Image’ & ‘Velbekomme’ I have been working within both the field of textile and food and therefore been influenced by various artists/photographer and designers. These are some of the more important ones:
First of all, I have been very influenced by my vintage collection of food-orientated “stuff” such as cookbooks, magazines, postcards, pictures, kitchen instruments and so forth.
- The Danish restaurant Noma
- The experimental organisation Nordic Food Lab
- Eating Designer Marije Vogelzang
- The exhibition elBulli/ Ferran Adria and the Art of Food at Sommerset House in London
- The photographer Tim Walker. He creates small stories in his photography and is, in my opinion, a good example of an artist crossing the boundaries of fashion, editorial, set design and the play on real and unreal by his use of scale, props and models. They are often a bit odd, humorous, ambiguous but also beautiful and create an artistic and often glamorous fantasy world.
- The Danish photographer Ditte Isager was another inspiration source and is in many ways the complete opposite of Tim Walker. Her natural, romantic and rustic Scandinavian roots influence her style. Her pictures are appealing lifestyle shots and often of food in a simple setting. She has for example shot the new book of the Danish Michelin-starred restaurant Noma.
Food and trend focused magazines like The Gourmand and Alla Carta. The content has an interesting and fashionable way of approaching food and dining in a diverse cultural context.
- The California-based Julie Lee who created her name Julies Kitchen through Instagram.
- Another Instagram profile from United Kingdom is Amber @rawveganblonde. She also arranges vegetables and fruits in colourful and often mirrored patterns. She is potentially turning her food designs into scarves.
- Andere Monjo is a surface designer who creates objects and mysterious atmospheres for interiors, window sets and visuals for editorials and publications. She collaborated with a pastry chef on a baked table setting consisting of plates, cutlery and tactile napkins.
- The Danish textile designer Margrethe Odegaard has also been working with dining as a theme and created a pop-up event called ‘Dine Drink Danish Design’ that I participated in.
- The project Edible Surfaces by Chocolátl in collaboration with the textile studio Pinaki Studios.
Any new future food projects?
With the project Velbekomme I am raising questions about the meaning of food waste and consumptions, suggesting new possible forms and values for this “material” and the way to use it. I am very interested in exploring fish skin as a material even further as I think it is very unique in its technical possibilities and a beautiful waste-material but I will also keep looking into other food waste and discarded everyday objects for future projects. I have recently seen the exhibition ScarcityWaste that was extremely touching and empathised among other things the complexity and challenges with food waste and at the same time the demand of food that will double by 2050. It inspired me to think, once again, how I as a designer can take an even bigger part in challenging the notions of the use of reused and recycled materials by using my craft to carry out the storytelling of a project combining function, beauty and sustainability. Food and eating culture is a very exciting field to be working within and also in combination with my textile career, so you will defiantly very soon see some new projects coming from my hand, but which I can unfortunately not tell you more about. Furthermore, I am working on a commission for an exhibition that will take place in Copenhagen. The project is about using old tablecloths that have been collected in a new and surprising context, telling the stories from the Danish family gathering around the set dinner table. I am, of course, always open to and interested in new collaborations and work commissions.
Your favorite restaurant and food to eat?
In my everyday life, I’m a firm believer in eating in a nutritious way by eating organic and responsibly sourced produce. I try to buy locally and shop at farmers markets or my local Broadway Market. Besides that, I love Smørrebrød (Danish Open Sandwich) and a piece of cake or two. My favorite kitchens are Moroccan, Indian, Danish, Italian, and British. London has a lot to offer in regards to new and interesting restaurants. I currently visited Gujarati Rasoi on Bradbury Street but my favorite restaurant is continuously changing as new and interesting eating venues are created around me.