An Absurd Dinner Party is inspired from my work in project one, in which I explored themes and ideas centered around the silverware in the Portland Collection.
To me, it seemed absurd that a family could invest so much time and money into collecting silverware, when ultimately, its function is purely as basic as to be used for eating. For my final piece I attempted to protest and to express my frustration. I designed three sets of cutlery for three ridiculous courses; cutting the atmosphere, eating slowly, and the course of silence. I then filmed my friends trying to use the cutlery. I expected them to be frustrated, but found that they actually really enjoyed using the cutlery, and as a result, their experience of eating was much more interesting. After reflecting on this, I revoked my original statement about the silverware being unneccessary. I’ve found it is the appearence and value that we place in objects, that enchances or changes our experience of using them, therefore it is important to look beyond just an objects function.
An Absurd Dinner Party
The themes that I carried forward into this project were absurdity, the idea of forcing or changing etiquette, and the idea that ultimately, the experience of eating could be changed and enhanced by using these themes to create a piece of architecture. The design comprises of four floors: three for the three courses and a basement for the food preparation and cooking. These are all encased by an inner and outer skin. The inner skin contains the dining rooms, whilst stairs between the inner and outer skin provide a way for guests to ascend and descend through the building. Twelve guests are invited for dinner at the folly, where they will be transported from the abbey to the folly in a rowing boat. They are taken across the lake and into the dock, which is hidden by folds in the skin of the folly. They are greeted, and then taken to the first dinning room, identified as The Last Supper, which is the first course of the meal. Guests are offered bread to eat, and wine to drink, The absurdity of it is the wine dripping from a centre piece, whereby the building itself almost becomes the cutlery for the meal. The interior is cast metal, reflecting light coming in from through slits in the west wall, which follow the curves of the outer skin. The walls reflect light similarly to the cutlery cabinets in the Portland dining halls, representing status and wealth. After finishing this course, guests travel up to the next dining room; King Arthur’s Round Table. Guests are seated around a round table, and have to rely on using long cutlery to serve themselves food from a stand at the centre of the table. This can best be envisioned as the Allegory of the long spoons, where guests may have to rely on each other to plate their food. Guests then ascend to the third and final dining room; In Search of Lost Time, a novel by Marcel Proust. In volume one, the narrator dips a madeleine into his tea, and is transported into the past. Proust highlights the importance of sensory experience in creating memories, therefore this dining room uses sensory experience in its architecture. While guests can chat, enjoy tea and madeleines in this dining room, they also experience the sounds and touch of hundreds of cutlery pieces hanging from the ceiling. Ultimately this folly is about much more than just eating, it’s about changing the way we experience dining, in order to create something exciting and unforgettable.