Finger licking good

Is it a must to use cutlery at every lunch and dinner? Maybe instead of being useful devices, knives and forks create a barrier that reduces the pleasure derived from food?

Ever since childhood, we are taught to wash our hand before every meal. Playing with food or even touching it is officially forbidden. We are obsessed with hygiene and etiquette. A young Polish ceramic designer Paulina Maria Masternak, who is one of the first School of Form graduates, explains how to overcome cultural barriers and get a maximum amount of pleasure from food.

Trend Nomad: The cook touches ingredients very often during preparation, but when food is put on a plate it becomes untouchable. You have to use cutlery.
Paulina Maria Masternak: We change our behavior when we are alone. When nobody is watching us, we do not bother to use a fork, knife or spoon. We just open the fridge, take what we like, put it into our mouth and greedily lick our fingers. People enjoy not only the taste and smell of food but also its texture and temperature. Nonetheless, we do not behave like this in the company of other people. We do not want to look primitive.

Maybe if we replace cutlery with other product of civilization, one that gives an official permission for a tactile contact with food, a barrier would disappear?
Definitely! For this purpose, I designed a collection of ceramic vessels called Primitive Etiquette. Forms of my objects encourage people to eat with their hands. When people use these utensils, they find it correct to touch food even when they are in a group. Moreover, they feel that they should do that.

Your design does not resemble typical plates and bowls.
Before I started designing shapes, I invited to the table a dozen of people. I fed them with several courses of different consistency, including thick vegetable paste, roasted vegetables, zucchini noodles and a pudding. Naturally I asked them to eat with their hands without cutlery. I was carefully watching their behaviors and movements of their hands.

Paulina Maria Masternak Primitive Etiquette 1 School of Form

Shapes of Primitive Etiquette dishes reflect observed movements?
Exactly. For example, when you eat hummus, fingers are arranged in the shape of a spatula. Hence, the edge of the first plate is folded. On the basis of other observation, I designed a vessel intended for grainy and solid food.

Paulina Maria Masternak Primitive Etiquette 2 School of Form

The edge of this plate is flat, on the contrary to its serrated middle part.
Convexities interfere with cutlery. It is hard to cut anything on the uneven surface. Instead, you can put your fingertips into channels to grab small pieces of food. The third part of the collection is a segmented cone. You can serve a spaghetti or soft vegetables strips on it. Finally, the dessert is hidden in the pebble. You can enjoy eating it with your hands.

Paulina Maria Masternak Primitive Etiquette 3 School of Form

Are Primitive Etiquette vessels designed only for cold food?
You can use them for cold and for hot dishes as well. When you eat with your hands, receptors on your fingers can warn you against too high temperature of food and prevent taking a bite, so you will not burn your palate or oesophagus. A fork does not send you any warning.

Paulina Maria Masternak Primitive Etiquette 4 School of Form
Dishes from the collection of Primitive etiquette are made of stoneware clay. Green color results from the application of the chromium oxide. All elements can be washed in a dishwasher.

You can wrap spaghetti around segmented cones, but what about a tomato soup and broth?
You can drink the soup from the pebble.

And how are you going to serve Polish dumplings?
I would serve them on the serrated plate.

Would you like to launch Primitive Etiquette at restaurants?
Those who participated in my research declared that eating without cutlery is a pleasant experience. Many of them told me they wish to do that more often with friends and family at home, but would not dare to do so in a restaurant. Primitive Etiquette dishes are intended for domestic use, so I achieved my goal.

Paulina Maria Masternak Graduation Show School of Form credits Trend Nomad
Paulina Maria Masternak at the first School of Form Graduation Show. Photography: Trend Nomad

Primitive Etiquette collection is the graduation project made by Paulina Maria Masternak. She graduated the new Polish design academy School of Form in June this year as one of the first students. I had the pleasure to meet Paulina at the Graduation Show, which was held from 25th of June to 5th of July this year at Concordia Design in Poznan. If you have any questions regarding Primitive Etiquette, please send an email to Paulina:

School of Form

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