Defining herself as an Eating Designer, Marije Vogelzang is one of the leading figures in the food design world. Based in Dordrecht (Netherlands) and founder of the Dutch Institute of Food&Design, Vogelzang was one of the first designers to focus on food.
Keen to discover more about the dutch designer’s projects, we asked her more about her work and her relationship with food, focusing on her last project installation, Seeds, taking place at the Interior Design Show in Toronto.
Where does your interest in food come from?
Food is not just taste or cooking or nourishment. As a designer, I am interested in food because it connects to everything in life. Food is sensorial, food is politics, food is geography, food is culture, rituals, history. Food is economy and medicine and ephemeral. Food, as a design subject forces you to reconsider design. How do you design with an ephemeral material? How do you deal with the societal impact or the symbolic meaning of food? Food can be experienced fully as it can be tasted and ingested and has a sense of smell and texture and has an effect on your body. All these things are much more present in food than in any other material. For me, food is endless inspiration in its multi-faceted appearance. I am not sure though if my work is actually about food itself or if it is about life, humans, and behavior and food is the tool I use to address these subjects.
Why do you define yourself as an "eating designer"?
When I started there were hardly any designers seriously focussing on food in the world. People started to call me a food designer, but that title would imply I literally design food which I think is a bit boring and I also think that food, in many cases doesn’t need to be designed as nature already did a fantastic job. To open up the discourse I started using the word eating designer to imply my interest in the act of eating as a verb. I think it is a much more dynamic title.
Regarding your work, where do you find your inspiration?
I find a lot of inspiration in human behavior and from my kids. Kids experience the world unfiltered by cultivated conventions and that really inspires me. Why not graze from a table? Why not hand-feed someone? We have all been fed before. Also, I get a lot of inspiration for the understanding that food, as a tool, that can bring people together and make a bridge. I think we, as humans need connection and trust, and working with food enables me to work on these issues.
Speaking about your last project, could you explain the meaning of Seeds to our readers and the idea behind the installation?
Seeds is an installation I made for Caesarstone, as an immersive installation. Caesarstone as a material is obviously very rigid and durable and I enjoyed combining this with a forest of light and flexible ribbons. Seeds is actually an immersive experience where the visitor is taken into this ribbon forest guided by a seed. You choose a seed at the beginning and ingest it. You listen to an audio device and the seed will speak to you from inside your belly. The seed will take you to various segments in the installation (Honey comb-shaped pods) and in every pod, you listen to the seed telling you a little story of what’s going on here. All is related to the notion of life.
There’s a pod where you catch one drop of water, a pod where you grind seeds for flour and receive a hot baked piece of flatbread. There’s a pod where you have a tiny meditative moment imagining you’re a seed yourself. There’s a pod where you write down memories on bread in flour and a few more. Every part is related to the simplicity of life. Understanding time, understanding growth and decay and appreciating the senses. The installation also contains a few specifically designed smells that are part of the experience.
The reason for the theme and the seeds is because at these kinds of design fairs (like IDS - Interior Design Show) people tend to rush and ignore their senses. A lot of design is just to look at. I wanted to create something that appeals to the whole that you are and makes you connected to life a bit before you rush off again to the state of being walking brains with eyes.
Any future projects that you’d like to share with us?
I am creating a traveling exhibition called EDIBLE FUTURES about the future of food. I will do this with my NGO The Dutch Institute of Food&Design. It is an iteration on the Embassy of Food’s exhibition I did in 2017: Looking Back to Now.
All the images Courtesy of Caesarstone