Kitchen gadgets as design classics

In the last two weeks, a long, narrow table has been laid out in the basement of the Athens School of Fine Arts. While its art-de-la-table setting clearly indicates that the objects on display are meant to accompany some exquisite dishes, there is no food being served here. In fact, the pieces were created to accompany the culinary suggestions of the pioneers of Spain?s ?new gastronomy,? or molecular gastronomy, a cuisine that has been fascinating food lovers around the globe for the past decade or so.

A recent survey published in The New Yorker suggested that when it comes to the world?s top desserts, it all comes down to a certain group of Catalan wizards who have mastered the skill of balancing between science and art. They are also teaming up with fellow innovators in the field of design.

A result of this synergy, ?Foodjects — Design and New Gastronomy in Spain,? jointly organized by the Spanish Embassy in Athens and the Athens School of Fine Arts, is on display at the school through February 18.

Despite the fact that the exhibition unfolds on one table in a relatively plain space and under subdued lighting, every item carries its own story of innovation, imagination and practicality. Taken together, the objects tell stories of synergies created between two art forms, that of cooking and design.

Curating the show is Martin Azua, of the Barcelona-based design bureau with the same name. Having worked alongside the king of innovative chefs, Catalan Ferran Adria, Azua has designed a series of objects which add to the overall experience of molecular gastronomy. At the Athens exhibition, visitors will witness how design can communicate information on how to consume dishes in the best possible way.

?Right now chefs are leading Spain?s avant-garde scene,? said Azua. ?As a result their work has influenced a number of other creative sectors, one of which is object design. The chefs have proved that they can collaborate with designers on projects regarding space and product design, as well as for the communication of their culinary ideas.?

The exhibition offers a taste of the sculptural take of Deunor Bregana and Anne Ibanez Guridi. Gemma Bernal?s ceramic plates, meanwhile, act as extensions of food, and ergonomics are at work in the designs of Zoocreative and Ernest Perera. Literature has inspired ?diez+diez diseno? and innovation defines the take of Cul de sac and Alejandro Mingarro in their redesigns of conventional kitchen tools.

?Technology is a major component when it comes to being innovative, along with the use new materials,? said Azua. ?In the studio, our work is based on a combination of novel as well as more traditional techniques. Novelty, however, doesn?t mean that what is new is necessarily better. The same is true of Spain?s new gastronomy scene, which is constantly working on redefining traditional recipes. I really enjoy the basics, objects that provide solutions to problems, in a discreet way. In the end, these pieces are the most challenging to design.?

Athens School of Fine Arts, 256 Pireos, Rendi, tel 210.480.1315.

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