Steinbeisser means “biting on rock” in Dutch but, in this case, it is also an eating and design experience that experiments with poetic limits. It was formed in 2009 by Martin Kullik and Jouw Wijnsma. The idea behind the project is to merge experimental gastronomy with innovative design. On the one hand, it does through the creation of one-of-a-kind dinner events that hope to inspire consciousness about eating. Each guest has their own unique set of tableware, and the tasting menus are vegan. And on the other, the project includes a store, Jouw, launched in 2016, which sells tableware designs made with locally-sourced and reused materials. Recently, forty designers, craftsmen, and artists have been invited to propose new objects. We highlight both sides of the project below while thinking about them in terms of how our domestic habits have gone out of focus throughout the pandemic. The project opens up questions on the role that design plays as a mediator between users and experiences that extends beyond what is put on the table.
What happens when every-day designs are not only thought in terms of usability? What role can art and design play in changing the way we organize the domestic? The concept behind Steinbesser has the possibility to generate these kinds of questions and many, many more depending on your individual experiences, interests, and disciplines. Perhaps it is because the project brings about a disconnection from the daily and encourages a search for a secret code—almost like a collective scientific lab experiment. Perhaps it is because, as Kullik mentions, the pages are still unwritten, left open to new experiences. Whatever the answers may be to any questions that arise while eating off Adam Knoche’s Exploding Plate, for example, opens up a new chapter that brings conscious and reusable design to the scale of the body and the gesture.
Adam Knoche, Exploding Plate, for jouwstore.com. ©jouwstore.com
This idea is furthered by tension. The project strives for perfection, always taking the concept one step further to that ultimate idea, that perfect design. At the same time, it is left open to be experienced as original and novel, and that comes with its own possible confusions and mishaps. Take for example the Triple Spoon by Jayden Moore. From only an image of it, the spoon seems to balance precariously between different design concepts. However, instead of thinking about the practicality of it as an object, what is immediately felt is a sensation of how it would fell, to gesture with the hand and to imagine what it would be like to eat.
Jaydan Moore Triple Spoon for jouwstore.com ©jouwstore.com
The question of usability—or going beyond it—is therefore important. Steinbesser and Jouw ask us to feel and think in the process of doing rather than to abstract, conclude, and resolve, even if those ideas are encouraged too. The designs are complex and poetic concepts, but that, in the end, they are made to be used. They are experiments, and we are left to imagine what would happen if we try them out. This can go a long way in re-thinking the details that make up our domestic habits.