We are living in an increasingly global society and post-disciplinary world where the boundaries between art and design are blurred. Like Art, Design can stimulate our intellect, critically comment on social and ecological issues, trigger memories and engage with our senses.
Many of us know Meret Oppenheim’s famous surrealist artwork "Object" - a teacup, saucer and spoon covered in fur which uses a similar visual language as the "Hand Bowl dressed in Fur" by M/F.
Both tableware objects provoke the viewer to engage with an unexpected material combination. Unlike Oppenheim’s object, which is deprived from its practical function, the glass bowl “dressed in fur" by M/F still fulfills its purpose as a functional tableware object, and engages the viewers and users with all their senses.
Through touch, in the palm of the hand, the user experiences sensations of weight, form and temperature. In addition, the fur ‘dresses’ the Bowl. The tactile stimulation adds to the experience of consuming the food in a sensual manner, creating a reference to the carnivorous act of eating meat.
The idea behind M/F “Hand Bowl dressed in Fur” comes from a gastronomic experience in which Michel served a wild hare stew with spoons he had covered with the fur of the same animal. To enjoy this meat dish, guests were confronted with the animalness of the meat stew, to be mindful and respectful of the life that was taken for the preparation of the recipe and the process, in a way “Animating the inanimate”.
Marcel Duchamp concluded in his essay ‘The Creative Act’ that: ‘…all in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act …’
These lines could equally be applied to the user of tableware that, like Duchamp’s spectator, brings the designed object into action, and completes the creative act.
“Art […] has to do with spirit, not with decoration,” Oppenheim once wrote, and a work as small and economical as Object has such outsized spirit because fur combined with a teacup evokes such a surprising mix of messages and associations. The fur may remind viewers of wild animals and nature, while the teacup could suggest manners and civilization. With its pelt, the teacup becomes soft, rounded, and highly tactile. It seems attractive to the touch, if not, on the other hand, to the taste: Imagine drinking from it, and the physical sensation of wet fur filling the mouth.
The clip below is the teaser of the Short-film Touch Hunger - made in partnership with Colombian Film Artist No Water For Whales in 2014/2015.
"This Short-Film is an ode to the sensuality of eating, to human beauty, an invitation to interact with food differently and explore it in playful sensuality.
This is a call to embrace desire for what it is: a positive force of evolution rooted deep within the body and the mind.
Sensory deprivation is an ailment of modern society, a manifestation of our modern-time disconnection from Nature: While our minds overdose on visual information, the more emotionally-powerful senses of touch and smell are often neglected, undoubtedly affecting our well-being."