Food Design in The Netherlands
“Food design has existed for centuries” says Marjolein Wintjes of De Culinaire Werkplaats in Amsterdam. The rise of the internet has opened up endless alternative lifestyles and food design is no exception to this. Today in the Netherlands’ food design can be found in abundance in restaurants, cafes, workshops, street festivals and media and is championed by the likes of Marije Vozelgang, Amsterdam’s De Culinaire Werkplaats (The Culinary Work place) and Katja Gruijters Studio.
Marije Vogelzang is a luminary in the field of eating design in Holland. “Eventually my aim is to make eating design a serious discipline”, she tells us. Since graduating from Eindhoven’s design academy she has been hailed for her successful projects featured in hospitals, museums, galleries, restaurants and media worldwide. Her designs are further enhanced with a sociological and historical component, an approach which permeates all her work in a world in which the food industry is increasingly politicized.
She has been communicating her vision globally in the form of lectures at schools, corporations and conferences. Her books Eat Love and The Lunchboxbook have won numerous awards, and has opened restaurants in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Vogelzang’s innovations are also applied in products at supermarkets and hotel and restaurants chains.
Vozelgang’s vision is driven by her social and humanistic conscience; as she says “we have to start understanding that the issues on food in the world are getting more and more alarming and that we need creative people to look at these problems from different perspectives. Food design is more than just giving shape to objects; it is about making new ideas and new solutions in unexpected ways.”
De Culinaire Werkplaats (the culinary workplace) is a unique award-winning eating initiative at the cutting edge of food design. Located opposite Amsterdam’s culturally hip Wester park, its founders Marjolein Wintjes and Eric Meursing offer tailored thematic dinner experiences- past themes included water and growth- and ready-to-eat collections such as green pastry and emotion breads.
This food design venue presents a cornucopia of vegetables, fruits, grains, with a noted absence of meat and fish. Refraining from using the label “vegetarian”, the owners say that this term is too polemical and deviates from their innovative purpose. Instead they adhere to a code of ethics such as animal welfare, micro organic farming, fair trade and health.
De Culinaire Werkplaats’s chief raison d’etre is commissioned assignments for requested food concepts, specialized caterings, product launches, weddings, press events and workshops. Guests are given an introduction as they enter the restaurant and are seated in the kitchen and must bring their plates to the sink themselves.
Meursing and Wintjes maximize the taste and texture of food through producing a rich variety of colours – following a measured mood gamut – and foods in all feasible forms such as powder, ice, paper, foam, sundried, mousse, berries, marinations and cold/warm mixes. The end result of their innovative creations is an unforgettable impact on the taste buds. Their mission is to change the paradigm of eating with a conscience.
Also in Amsterdam is Katja Gruijters Studio. Launching her studio in 2001, Katja Gruijters was the first Dutch food designer and like Marije Vozelgang a graduate from Eindhoven’s design academy. A big promoter of conscious eating, Gruijters says it is “an ideal that reflects the essence of food: nature itself”. Similar to the aforementioned food designers, Gruijters puts an emphasis on an awareness of biodiversity, sustainability and social implications.
She explores the relationships between food, science, technology, culture, nature and design. In producing her projects, she carries out workshops with students and works with top chefs, scientists, filmmakers and business tycoons, including joint projects with Paris’s George Pompidou museum.
Gruijters is also praised for her bold experiments such as the bread bag with handlebar, hailed as the first ergonomic sandwich or colour-patterned food arrangements. She is noted for her array of meat substitutes such as seaweed. Exploding with innovations involving tastes, textures, colours and aromas, Katja Gruijters is a triumphant champion in Dutch food design.
by Thomas Lundy