Foodjects: Design and the New Cuisine in Spain curated by Martín Ruiz de Azúa

20 July to 25 August 2012

 Antoni Arola, Martín Azúa, Nacho Carbonell, Curro Claret, CuldeSac, díez+díez diseño, El Último Grito, Emiliana Design, Luis Eslava, Guillem Ferran Joan, Martí Guixé, Jaime Hayón, Lagranja, Ernest Perera, Diego Ramos, Mario Ruíz, Héctor Serrano, Stone Designs, Ramón Úbeda, Patricia Urquiola

Luki HuberCooking Mesh, 2006, silicone. Photo: Santi De Pablo

Foodjects: Design and the new cuisine in Spain by curator, Martín Azúa

The catalogue essay is published with kind permission from the Sergi Vich.

The new Spanish cuisine has revealed itself as one of the world's most creative and surprising, a success linked to a culinary tradition as rich and as varied as the country's landscapes. Food in Spain is a pretext for reunion and fiesta. Our restaurants, bars and terraces are bustling places where we express our Mediterranean character.

Spanish chefs understand cuisine as a language, a means of expression using the new culinary technologies to arouse sensations and emotions. Daring initiatives which leave no-one indifferent, which provoke discussion and debate. As Ferran Adriá points out, 'Some pleasures of the palate are appreciated with the intellect'. This passion for cuisine has mobilized many sectors: companies producing kitchen and household tools, restaurants, food products, publishing houses, the media … Cuisine has never been discussed so much or so passionately in Spain. Spanish design has of course collaborated in this phenomenon, designing products and spaces; in this way generating a new image of this country's cuisine. This new cuisine needs tools to express itself and present its revelations: deconstructed dishes, foams, spherifications, cooking with liquid hydrogen … Many plates are designed for a specific dish, but the opposite can happen too, as the presentation of a recipe may be conditioned by a particular support. Chefs and designers collaborate to provide new formats for food, to appreciate the textures, the flavors, the contrasts or the aromas. Cross-culturalism takes on great importance in this process, but at the same time typically Spanish dishes and foods are recovered and astonishingly updated, for example the deconstructed potato tortilla or olive caviar, to cite just some examples.

Eating has been made a sensorial and intellectual experience in which the sense of humor and surprise play a major role. Designers and chefs have tackled this innovation from a variety of standpoints.

Deunor Bregaña and Anne Ibañez have researched natural forms to achieve highly sculptural yet also functional results. Gemma Bernal has explored the fluid qualities of ceramics, so that the plates become a prolongation of the food. Luki Huber has contributed transmaterialism, changing the materials of already familiar items, such as his collection of silicone objects inspired in Japanese cuisine. Zoocreative and Ernest Perera have raised ergonomic and functional questions which are not however devoid of formal beauty.

Jaime Hayón and Bodo Sterlein have revised decoration from a narrative point of view, gathering an entire tradition of prestige objects for the table; as Patricia Urquiola has done with a coffee service for Rosenthal. diez+diez diseño offers a poetic and symbolic vision, referring to literary matters.

Curro Claret tackles the subject of recycling, using orange packaging as a fruit bowl. Pati Nuñez, Ana Mir, Emili Padrós and Enric Rovira work on new and entertaining presentations for chocolate. Cul de sac and Alejandro Mingarro have focused on the clichés of Spanish cuisine, such as ham and the botijo drinking jug, making them contemporary. Toni Arola, Xavi Claramunt and Azuamoline have carried Ferran Adriá's thinking into daily stainless steel objects. Javier Mariscal, Attua Aparicio and Ricard Ferrer introduce irony and humor into objects which teach us to laugh at the ritual of food. These proposals differ greatly, mixing various generations of designers, pointing to the inspiring potential of present-day Spanish cuisine.

About the curator: Martín Azúa

Martín Azúa lives in Barcelona where he combines his work as a designer with his teaching work at the Elisava Design School. Martín studied fine arts, specializing in design at the University of Barcelona. He also has a postgraduate degree in Architecture and Ephemeral Installations from the Polytechnic University of Barcelona and an MA in Social Communication from the Pompeu Fabra University.

Currently Martín works as a designer for different companies, as well as carrying out his experimental and investigative work which has been exhibited in individual and collective exhibitions in Barcelona, Milan, London, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, New York, Tokyo Peking, amongst others.

He has work in the collections of MoMA in New York, Vitra Design Museum in Berlin, The Museum of Decorative Arts in Barcelona and The La Panera Centre of Art in Llieda. His projects have been published in various important international magazines.