Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Oh to utter the words, food design…

September 28, 2005

Well it’s about bloody time! Coinciding with all manner of design events going on right now in Amsterdam, the Stedelijk Museum hosted a symposium titled Food Design at the ubiquitous Club 11, featuring three speakers and three completely different interpretations.

Marije Vogelzang (Proef) is doing some very interesting work from her studio slash catering laboratory and counts the stars of Dutch design (such as the Ladies Hella Jongerius, Marlies Dekkers and Li Edelkoort) amongst her clients. After a stunning portfolio presentation, I can’t wait to visit Vogelzang’s restaurant in Rotterdam Proef and get down to the business of tasting and nibbling. (Proef means ‘taste’ or ‘taste it’, in Dutch.) Vogelzang’s work is all about engaging the eater in the underlying concept of the food and its presentation. I loved her daring in a recent catering project in which she used WWII ration ingredients to invoke memories about this bleak period. She elegantly walks the fine line between being thought provoking and utterly disarming when she stated, ‘It’s design that someone puts in their mouth, and absorbs into their body. It’s all very intimate’. That’s what I call a laudable attitude!

Although it wasn’t the most pleasant message to hear, I can’t stop thinking about the corporate presentation by Hans van Trijp from Unilever. Food design according to the multinational means designing the market context in which a food product exists, and has very little to do with actual food. Van Trijp described Honig’s SpongeBob pasta as the perfect marriage of food design and marketing. Predictably, I found van Trijp’s take and food and food design extremely disturbing, but I am so very eager to get in touch with him to hear more of what he has to say about how multinationals, even when we wouldn’t dream of buying their products, influence our every day life right down to the iggly niggly bit of designing a country’s infrastructure. This means that while Marije Vogelzang is designing a lunch using ‘forgotten vegetables’, Unilever, by the very virtue of it’s market share, is determining which races of grains farmers will be growing and how food will be manufactured and distributed in decades to come. I just can’t help but think it’s a wise idea to keep in close contact with the suits. I’m just as much a stakeholder as the next Lady, right?

Ex-designer and unwitting stand-up comedian Marti GuixĂ© as per usual wowwed the audience with a portfolio presentation of more than a decade’s worth of food-related projects. He is the well-known Catalunian ex-designer that has worked extensively with shoe brand Camper, and ultimately designed their flagship restaurant, Foodball, in Barcelona. Balls are something of a leitmotif in Marti G’s gastro-design as you can see from this author’s review. It might have been just the unfortunate lighting, but while presenting images of his ‘corporate sponsored food’, (in this case an omelette with a sauce-stamped Calvin Klein logo), GuixĂ© claims to have noticed van Trijp’s lip twitch.

Although I’m not willing to spill the beans just yet, I am looking forward to GuixĂ©’s collaboration with Mediamatic in just a few week’s time. GuixĂ© and Mediamatic will be opening up a temporary restaurant in the basement of the former TPG builiding where you’ll… read about it in culiblog.

images from l to r: Vogelzang’s salad course of city leafy greens (served with grilled pigeon breast), hanging etagères made of 2nd hand plates designed by Vogelzang for Dutch fabric producer de Ploeg, Gin and Tonic Fog Party by Marti GuixĂ© (artificial indoor fog made of gin and tonic at Casco, Utrecht). The above images are from the (ex-)designers’ websites, © and hopefully also courtesy of Vogelzang and GuixĂ©.

debra at 9:03 | | post to


  1. Dear Debra,
    It was a pleasure to have met you yesterday.
    See you soon!

    Comment by marije vogelzang — September 28, 2005 @ 16:14

  2. Dear Marije,

    The pleasure was mine. Looking forward to visiting you in R’dam.

    Warm regards,


    Comment by Debra — September 28, 2005 @ 17:47

  3. Re-enjoyed the photos of Foodball.
    An AK’s quibble: The off-white text on pale blue back ground is a hard read for anyone’s eyes, let alone an AK’s.

    If the text is important, the text/back ground contrast is also important.

    Comment by dad — September 28, 2005 @ 19:32

  4. Dad,

    You are so right, if the text is important, it should be easily accessible. In the future I’ll go for stronger contrast. Don’t know what I was thinking 1,5 years ago…

    Now that I’m starting to be an AK myself, and can no longer read the ingredients on vitamine jars, I can especially appreciate your comment.

    Oh, did you realise that you and Larry David wear the same sort of glasses?

    Love a dove dove,


    Comment by Debra — October 1, 2005 @ 11:07

  5. Hello Debra,

    It’s me, Anastasia, I did all the cooking for The Individualist Lounge this summer. We wanted to talk with eachother after the eindexamenbeoordeling, but I couldn’t find you afterwards. Anyway, I follow your website since then.
    Funny to read about Proef though, cause that’s where I work on saterday and sunday. My mom and I are the cooks, and we also work on the fooddesigns. Hope that you’ll visit us soon.

    Comment by Anastasia — October 2, 2005 @ 23:04

  6. Hi Anastasia,

    WOww! That’s a small world - or not. Now I have all the more reason to hurry on down to R’dam. I promise this will be soon, possibly this weekend.

    Warm regards,

    Debra Solomon

    Comment by Debra — October 4, 2005 @ 13:17

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