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Synaesthetic Dining. Collaborative Theory.
Collaborative Laboratory

The Artist
Kaye Winwood.

An artist with works centered around participatory art, a non-traditional artform.
“Participatory art has its origins in the futurist and dada performances of the early 20thcentury, which were designed to provoke, scandalize and agitate the public”.
Luckily, the Interior Architects like myself, had had the chance to work with Kaye before on previous projects, and it was exciting for us to be working with her again but on a larger scale project.
Kaye came in to introduce herself to the remainder of the group and share her work and career with us in support of this project. She is kind and explained her goals in sharing her work to us thoroughly, to the surprise of many who’d not seen her type of art before.
Her work with vulnerable women, the IKON gallery and other events of dining experiences were impressive and her ability to see the beauty in food and food experience was something we all picked up on.

Concept and Exploration

Within my group, myself, Mark Ferreras, Mohammed Hussain, Catherine Emad and Alexandra Ayrton, began discussing our possible concept.

Firstly, we wanted to showcase something that was relevant in society and had an important purpose. The site for the work was originally going to be at Centrala in Digbeth but unfortunately never came to fruition. 
Thankfully the alternative was the shell, at Parkside which is a dynamic and easily manipulated space. 

The initial concept we came up with was a non-restrictive dining setup whereby there would be no chairs nor tables. And something to relay the effects of climate change and environmental change through the foods. This we found was relevant because of the statistics and media coverage of the fight against food wastage, eating healthily and promoting recycling and growing your own food or going to independent retailers. The main focus of our concept was my idea of floating glass globes, or cloches. This is a visual metaphor for liberation, a free feeling. They would be suspended at various heights and in juxtaposition to one another to force consumers around them and around the space, in turn liberating their experience physically. This also makes a connection and pays homage to Kaye’s works where she has glass installation art hand blown into personal shapes for her other dining experience events and work. 

With this we expanded on this by considering external influences such as bio-philia, the notion of liberation, temperature changes, scents and smells, a breeze and light and shade. Each of these things could be translated as an experience of the food, alongside taste, that the light or temperature it was in would visualise and communicate the origins of the food like the country and climate. Allowing consumers or clients to make the connection between its origin and the taste and emotion they’d feel during the experience.
In regard to this we then had to communicate this within the space, and after analysing the shell and taking various measurements, we could expand on our concept. 

We ran into a few hurdles to begin with such as:

How would we initiate change of temperature in a large void?
How would we create varied light levels or light temperature in a large void?
How could we translate the space into a journey clear for visitors?
What would we separate the space with, physically or visually into respective zones?
How could we introduce the experience of food hygienically and safely?
What in regard to the risk assessment could be made different to enhance consumer experience?

Once we had assessed this, we could go back to the drawing board and iron out these issues.

Firstly, for temperature changing areas, we had to cross this off the list. In a large void as the shell, with a light breeze from multiple doorways and triple height ceiling, the idea wasn’t feasible. 

Secondly, varied light levels were easily manipulated. We had aid from the lighting technician, Lee, whom advised us of various ways to change the light levels and the temperature of the lights with different lenses and screens, therefore achieving the desire to make the light levels relevant to the food items. 

Third, on plan we tested various ways the consumers could make their way around the space. The light levels would be low, apart from where the food physically is, in each zone. And the simple notion of fluorescent paint or arrows on the floor to direct people round. This was changed in the end to a more open and free flowing space. 

Fourth, in relation to the other group’s projects, as we were sharing the space, the area was split fairly into two, and our concept could be displayed clearly and as a transition from the other groups works, connecting the two as this food journey. 

Fifth, originally the idea was that food would be inserted into these small glass globes, and visitors would take small samples to taste. However, with further discussion with Kaye and Delia, the hygiene factor would be at high risk in regard to the risk assessment and further complication such as slip risk, cross contamination and a difficulty in refilling each globe mid-event would ensue. To combat this, we came to an agreement with Kaye that the aspect of this part of the event could be smells and scents, which pairs with the original discussion of climate, environment, sensory and smells. Once we’d all decided and agreed to this idea, we could introduce Kaye to the idea of creating extra food concoctions for the globes. 

Sixth, the risk assessment delegated a few hurdles for the glass globes. We had to solve these issues physically by testing them in the space. This was originally a simple task made difficult by a few individuals whom didn’t see the importance of making installation type work easily accessible for all. We took into consideration the various heights people stood at and likewise the limits able-bodied people had such as stooping low. And additionally, the less able-bodied restrictions such as reaching high up or turning in a small space. The testing session resulted in multiple applications of the glass globes to the lighting bars, which could be lowered or raised to suit. 


During the main setup for the event, all the groups came back together to form one big group and we all chipped in on each other’s projects to make sure we had a seamless event. I managed to get in on works with the big red pillow, a large inflatable powered by a basic fan. And there I helped create an entry and exit, and we all repositioned it’s resting place in respect of other groups works.

Coming closer to the time of the event, everyone pulled together and chipped in on advice and opinion to refine the space further and overall Kaye was happy with the main pieces such as the globes and television projector table. Kaye brought along some of her own film creations to have projected onto the main wall of the shell and music to pair with. Other group members helped and shared input on creating new combinations and concoctions to put into the glass globes with Kaye’s ingredients. 

In further discussion with Kaye, I got to know her more and discovered she was brought up in the area I was also born and raised in, and this was nice to have a connection with her and something in common. We also talked about how I would serve the clients the food, the use of the tv projector tables as a giant dining room table, how it would work and in what order. We also got to know more about participatory art and the notion of food experience. 

If you'd like to see the final product of this project which is a film, please follow this link:
Synaesthetic Dining. Collaborative Theory.

Synaesthetic Dining. Collaborative Theory.

A collaborative project between 2nd year Interior Architecture Students