Greek architect and designer Kostantia Manthou came up with an original idea while preparing for a group exhibition by the This Is Very Dangerous (TIVD) team of international designers at this year’s Milan Design Week, held April 8-13. Every year, the team sets a specific theme which acts as inspiration for the work they create. This year it was picnics.
“Imagine an international picnic, for which each of us had to prepare a traditional dish that represents our country,” Manthou told Kathimerini recently.
“We’re not that familiar with the picnic ‘tradition’ in Greece, so I was thinking about what a typical Greek cook would bring to a meal? Bread for sure, but also something else,” said the designer, 30, who works and lives in Milan.
Manthou eventually struck on the idea of the Kira and the Edible Tower (of Containers) collection of dishes made out of bread. In Milan, the creator presented the ceramic dish in which the “durable” bread is cooked, a tool to score it so that it can later be cut into different shapes, as well as a tablecloth with specially designed handles so that the whole kit can be carried around.
The message is clear. Once-revolutionary disposable picnicware such as paper or plastic plates and cutlery are today viewed as a huge environmental threat. So imagine if the food containers we use to bring food to work, parties or school were edible?
Following the success of the collection at Milan Design Week, Manthou is considering getting the kit on the market. “I haven’t decided yet if I want to promote it alone, in cooperation with Italian craftsmen, or sell the idea to a company,” she said.
Manthou further explained that apart from the Kira collection’s ecological attributes, preparing food and the container it will go into at the same time lends a kind of awareness to the process of food consumption.
“The linear progress of preparing food for a meal in the countryside becomes cyclical. What remains is the memory of a shared meal.”
Manthou was born in Thessaloniki. She studied architecture in the city of Volos, central Greece, working for Nikos Alexiou, and later under the guidance of Brazil’s Fernando and Humberto Campana. Since 2008, she has been living in Milan, where she earned her master’s degree in industrial design.