Your mother was wrong. You can play with your food. But the straight spoons and frigid forks that currently adorn our tables make it easy to approach mealtime as a boring routine. Perhaps that’s why there’s a new wave of designers creating tools that encourage diners to approach mealtime as an exploration. It’s time to throw away your etiquette book and redress your dinner table.
“Your brain reacts to eating the same way that it reacts to sex. It’s all about the pleasure centre being activated and the amount of endorphins released,” Roxanne Brennen, a graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven told Dezeen. Brennen was discussing the Dining Toys collection she presented at Dutch Design Week, which forgo standard flatware shapes for bowls with lickable indentations, plates with strokable protrusions and spoons that beg to be gnawed on. While these pieces aren’t for mixed company, Brennan argues that loosening established politesse is the point. When the diner sits down to a plate that resembles nothing they’re used to, they’re forced to confront eating anew. This changes not only how they eat, but also how they relate to the social norms that dictate food and appetite. In fact, Brennan notes that each diner who eats with the tools uses them in unique ways. Consuming food might be a necessity, but the way in which we eat doesn’t need to be rote.