ElBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food

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In August I visited the ElBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food exhibition at Somerset House. As a huge fan of Adria’s food and work it was the closest I was going to get to actually eating there.

ElBulli has always fascinated me, I recently watched the documentary ElBulli: Cooking in Progress (2011) and was blown away by their meticulous detail and pretty much scientific approach to food and the effect on the senses. The strange thing about the documentary was how much some of the processes they were experimenting with, and the end results they were recording, like mouthfeel, crunch, scent etc, reminded me of the food testing and experiments used in the processed food industry (I’ve been reading a lot of books on the ‘crap’ food industry lately, more of that in later posts). However El Bulli uses them in a far more creative and interesting way, as its not about profit margins and units sold, but as an experience challenging perceptions about food.

I was really looking forward to the exhibition, had no idea what to expect as it must have been difficulty to create an exhibition about food, which involves all the senses, in a traditional art gallery setting.

You enter the gallery with the walls papered with magazine covers with Ferran Adrià and ElBulli featured on all of them. Then you enter the first floor of the exhibition and its all a bit meh. The best thing in the first room was a giant Bulli (Bulldog) made for the El Bulli restaurant closing day by Christian Escribà and Patricia Schmidt. It was made from meringue, with the flowers and necklaces made from different sugar pastes and caramel pieces. It was truly a hulking great big masterpiece of sugar craft. However the rest of the room was a bit dull, there were some cards on the wall listing all the different staff over the years and a video playing, I believe it may even have been the documentary mentioned about) and a case containing the aforementioned Bulli alongside some memorabilia from the restaurant such as signed chef whites.

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The next room was even more dull, as a fan of El Bulli and someone whose life is devoted to food past, present and future I really didn’t need to see a timeline explaining the roots of Adrià’s food in Nouvelle cuisine. I would’ve enjoyed learning about the history of the restaurant but it was presented in such a dull, uninteresting way I found myself wandering off fairly quickly. It was a strange lay out and all of the information, such as the menus, personal letters etc were rather difficult to read. All in all it was a bit meh, it was also quite disappointing as it seemed like that was the entire exhibition, not realising (thank god) that there was another floor.

The upper floor was better and a relief and change from the lower rooms. The first room had a wall covered in (ipad?) screens showing demonstrations of different food processes used at the restaurant. They were fairly engrossing, I found myself staring at just one for about 20 minutes. This particular room also included a table which you were able to sit at which had a projection of the full El Bulli meal going on complete with ghostly diners hands.

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In the next room there were display cases full of plasticine components of dishes there were assembled into model dishes presumably to experiment with layout and the final design of dishes. There was also a display case full of all the custom made dishes/stands/cutlery etc that El Bulli used (though as someone who has finished 3 years studying 3D Design it takes much more than a case overstuffed with pressed pieces of metal and heatformed pieces of plastic to impress).

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There was a case with all their bits of techno wizardry in which seemed a fairly pointless display, as we’ve entered an era where we’re are increasingly obsessed with food, cooking and chefs I’m not sure an espuma gun is going to shock and amaze a visitor who has both one at home and who also owns the El Eulli molecular gastronomy kit.

Towards the end of the show there’s an interview with late artist Richard Hamilton which literally made us burst into fits of inappropriate, uncontrollable giggles. The interview was fine, bit dull as it was Hamilton droning on about Ferran Adrià and the food and El Bulli and comparing it all to Duchamp and Shakespeare. The reason it was so funny was his wife in the background has the most hilarious look on her face, a perfect mix of boredom and murder. I’m sure Hamilton’s interview was very interesting but it paled in significance next to the look on his wife’s face.

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The exhibition was all a bit meh. It was obviously designed by a media/PR firm in Shoreditch who thought they were being creative and foreward thinking by displaying doodles from Adrià’s notebooks on the walls (yawn). It was also odd that a exhibition about the most creative and innovative restaurant in the world couldn’t have pumped some smells around the place, or had a scratch and sniff, or something food related that didn’t involved reading squiggles on a wall or watching on a screen. The exhibition also focused an awful lot of Adrià’s celebrity, from the magazines papered over the walls as you enter, to the Simpson’s cartoon and his receiving a standing ovation from his staff as he enters the room in his documentary.

The entire show seemed to scream exclusivity and an unspoken warning against lesser mortals trying such things at home (which is really just snobbery isn’t it?). As someone who will probably never taste Adrià’s food, due to lack of funds or opportunity, I went to this exhibition hoping to get a little closer to it. I was disappointed.

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Éléa Nourand-Apisoap

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Another fellow graduate from 3D Design is Éléa Nourand, her whole degree show work was centered around localism, biodiversity and recycling, one project, TRUC, features products created from recycled plastic shopping bags. The range includes a bag, egg carrier and even her business cards are made from plastic bags! However it is her range of ethical and natural cosmetics that I loved. Although Apisoap isn’t technically edible it’s still bloody lovely. It is a range of locally sourced, ethical and environmentally sound soaps and cosmetics that combine flax and bee products to make yummy yummy products.

The project was a response to the lack of questioning that goes on with our cosmetic products, nowadays we question everything in our food, we want to know where it is from, what it contains and the names of the farmer, pig or carrot. However if you attempt to read the back of a shower gel or soap packet I doubt many of us would know what the hell is in them! Even supposedly ‘natural’ products contain long sciency technical names. If these were food products we’d be demanding more clarity. Surely the same rules should apply for things we put in ourselves and on ourselves!

“People use soap everyday but do not question what it is made of. I have created a soap made of local bee produce and locally sourced ingredients such as Flax oil, rapeseed oil and hemp oil. I have attempted to engage people in the process and make-up of the product through the composition of the material and its form. The ApiSoap is a ‘well-being’ product, made to respect the human body and promote a bio-diverse, local environment.”

The series of soaps made from natural ingredients, including bees wax and flax extracts, are all hand made by Éléa herself. They smell yummy and the ingredients have be touted as gentle natural alternative for people with sensitive skin or skin conditions. The products also serve as a reminder to us that we often forget the cocktail of chemicals we slather on our selves day in day out with little knowledge (or perhaps care?) about what exactly is in these products, where the contents have come from and the negative impact such ingredients can have on the environment. Its an interesting and innovative idea to transfer concerns about ethics and locality usually associated with food products, onto cosmetics.

The soaps themselves are beautifully presented, each piece hexagonal in shape mimicing the bees hives where many of the ingredients have come from. The different ingredients and images of the production process were display too, presenting the manufacturing process with a transparency not usually associated with cosmetics manufacturers! The bee element is also extremely relevant at the moment, Éléa has tapped into a worldwide concern about rapidly declining numbers in the bee population and the subsequent collapse of our fragile ecosystems. I think the soap is subtle in its intent but also just a really nice, well made product that smells amazing and is kind to both your skin and the environment.

I intend to place an order for some lovely hand made bars of soap immediately, I would pay a high price for a product like this, like I would pay a high price for quality, local and organic food. I wish Éléa the best of luck in all her future endeavors and hope to see Apisoap on (local) shop shelves soon.

eleanouraud.com

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Freya Collingwood-Encased

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”Encased’ are a collection of dark chocolate suitcases with mystery fillings, just as luggage is personal to each individual, so is taste. Each case has a different filling such as; chilli, strawberry, coffee, white chocolate, almond, wasabi, pistachio..’

The project concept by a another coursemate from Brighton, Freya Collingwood. Freya’s entire final project was a discussion about luggage, it’s history, its present, how we use it, and what it says about us. Encased was side project that didn’t make it into the final show, but as a self confessed Gourmand/fatty with a lust for chocolate this is probably now one my favorite projects of hers.

However I don’t just like the project because it’s food and/or chocolate (though that is a good reason). I also think it’s very clever and quite lovely. I wonder whether the suitcases could be eaten Russian roulette style, so you don’t know what your going to get? It could evoke a personal memory of lost or switched luggage. Or perhaps they could be customisable? Perhaps a particular combination of flavours reminds you of a loved one?

The creation of a chocolate version of a suitcase is an intersting oxymoron, luggages is designed to keep the insides hidden and together, the suitcase has to be sturdy enough so it doesn’t break open and secure enough so things don’t spill out. With the chocolate the whole point is that you get inside to the contents, if the outer shell was strong enough to stop the filling coming out you’d break your teeth!

Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance yet to taste these suitcase shaped delights but I will report back if and when I can convince Freya to let me try a few, if only for ‘professional’ purposes.

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freyacollingwoodesign.co.uk

New Designers Day One

Day one of the show: So the University of Brighton 3D Design stand is finished and we’ve opened shop today. We completed the build yesterday evening after some frayed tempers and minor setbacks but it looks brilliant and is very different to the other stalls at the show. This first day (Wednesday) has been extremely long, we started at 9am and weren’t out until after 9pm, as we had the judges coming round in the morning and early afternoon and then it was press o’clock from 3, lots of hovering near our work, smiles and in depth explanations.

There hasn’t been much chance to have a wander about yet but the little that I have seen is really interesting. The nearest stalls to us are Northumbria University and The Cass. It’s an interesting mix of work, ours being a mix of conceptual mental bits, The Cass full of woodwork and furniture bits and Northumbria with a selection similar to The Cass but more product/design like, less craft. And we figured we were right next to both the cocktail bar and the awards ceremony! Result.

The private view was fun, Absolut is one of the sponsors so there was a queue a mile long for their three freebie drinks, original vodka and cranberry (the best one), mango vodka and apple and raspberry vodka and lemonade. Yum. There was also the various awards. Unfortunately our lot didn’t win anything this year but it was an interesting evening, there was a talk from Dick Powell of SeymourPowell design consultants (I was a teeny bit disappointed as there were rumors it was going to be Sir Terence Conran presenting) and it didn’t drag on which is always good. No Oscars style acceptance speeches. And although alot of the winners’ work weren’t my kind of thing (more on this to follow) congratulations to them all anyway.

Post shmoozing we were fairly sedate, a few drinks at the pub and then home, Ihink the 8am start the day before finished every one off. It opens proper like tomorrow so we all need a good night’s sleep before we meet our adoring public.

New Designers is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday so do come and visit. We’re at stand number FP34 at the back of the mezzanine so come and say hi. Below is a picture of the whole crew post set up. Happy and knackered. See you at the show.

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Critical Practice Degree Show Seminars-Food Farming and the Environment

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I was lucky enough to attend a seminar on Tuesday 11th June “How Can We Prevent Food Waste?” hosted by Vera Zakharov from Brighton and Hove Food Partnership , organised by Critical Fine Art Practice student Milly Cheetham. The discussion revolved around, funnily enough, food waste, specifically in Brighton and Hove. It was a fun interactive seminar opening up discussions about how food is wasted, what is being done locally in regards to reducing food waste and how we at home can reduce our food waste.
It was a great seminar and I wish Milly the best in all her endeavors as she continues to work as an artist dealing with issues around food, farming and sustainability.

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New Designers 2013

Fun Food Fact of the Day will also be showing as part of the Brighton University 3D Design and Craft stand in Week 2 of New Designers 2013.

“Taking place over two weeks, with eight distinct design zones and two prestigious Awards Evenings, New Designers is the UK’s most important graduate design exhibition, full of innovation and fresh thinking.

The show sees over 3,000 of the most talented, newly graduated designers from the UK’s leading universities come together to showcase the future of design and creativity.”
-New Designers Website

The piece of work being exhibited will be “Buglery” and it will exhibited in Week 2, the week displaying Furniture & Product Design (inc. Industrial Design), Visual Communications (Graphic Design & Illustration) and Spatial Design (inc. Architecture & Interior Design).

See links for more information on the students exhibiting (in both weeks) as well as info on visiting.

Hope to see you there!

http://www.facebook.com/NewDesigners2013

@NewDesigners3D

www.newdesigners.com

Degree Show 2013

 

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The culmination of three years hard work, blood, sweat and tears. My space at Brighton University Graduate Show 2013 is finished and ready. The body of work is called “Fun Food Fact of the Day” and consists of four different pieces, “Pigs Trotter Jelly Mould”, “A Spoonful of Sugar…”, “Real Gummy Teeth” and “Buglery”. On until the 12th of June my work will also be shown with other members of my course at New Designers 2013.

One Show Brighton

Exhibition of second year 3D Design and 3D Materials Practice work at the One church in Brighton. Was a lovely, different group of people from across the two courses and a weird but wonderful setting in a baptist church in the middle of town. With a swimming pool in it (baptism pool thingy). It was a great show made better by me not bursting intro flames as I approached the church which was a relief as a raging atheist.

I exhibited my lonely bench from first term of second year and a bicycle repair stool I made in first year.

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The ‘Lonely Bench’

“A UK study entitled The Lonely Society? found that as a nation 11% of us felt lonely while 48% thought we are getting lonelier in general. Perhaps this is due to the increasingly isolated lifestyles we are leading, with longer working hours and more time spent on social networking sites? This bench seeks to combat this loneliness, encouraging conversation and interaction between two people. It is impossible to be comfortable or stable when sitting on it alone so you must find another person to share with so by working together you may both enjoy your moments rest.”

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The stool I exhibited was from a first year project in wood, the brief was to create a functional stool no bigger that 50cm cubed using one hardwood, one softwood and one manufactured board. I made a bicycle repair stool, the slot in the seat is for your wheel to rest in as you tinker and the seat itself is reminiscent of a bicycle saddle.

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The private view was a great evening with even greater canapes and wine. Many thanks to the One Church, Saskia and all the crew who displayed their work. 

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Me on my bench, I was the only one allowed to touch the work 😉

Sugar Light

The final project from my first year was eat+design. The brief was literally eat+design and we had to come up with a design and prototype from the title. The majority of students in my class looked into food storage and products for eating, dining, food etc. I was one of the few who actually made a product out of food. Specifically a light from sugar (well with some aluminum, plywood, steel wire and acrylic…).

I originally started off by experimenting with jelly, melting various soft sweets such as gummy bears, haribo mixtures and making my own agar jelly.

Agar Jelly- tastes disgusting, has a watery texture and disintegrates very quickly.

Gummy Bear Blog- Great colour but literally stuck to everything and took a paint scraper to get off the kitchen surfaces

Hartley’s Jelly- Best light refraction out of all the tests but another gooey melting mess.

However the best result was from hard crack candy/sugar. Boiled sweets basically.

The idea was to buy the lamp base with two looped top rods and a recipe for creating your own shade for the lamp. It’s therefore a customizable, playful object that you can create at home.

The recipe I used for the final result I have annoyingly lost but these recipes also served me well…

http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/19868/orange-sweets.aspx

http://kidzcoolzone.com/how-to-make-boiled-sweets/

Surprisingly easy to make however you will need a jam thermometer and be warned hot boiled sugar burns really really hurt!

Hello World

So I’m starting blogging as I don’t have the time, money or skill base to run my own up to date website so need a platform to display my own work and the work of others I love. So I’m hoping it will be a combination of my sketchbook, my head and the results of a lot of internet trawling….fingers crossed.

Enjoy