Guest Interview N°23: Arabeschi di Latte


Guest Interview n°23: Arabeschi di Latte

Arabeschi di Latte are a design collective who work across mediums, borders and, fortunately, palates. They are part art of a wave of new generation designers whose material considerations are without limits, and whose design work considers the entire spectrum of human existence. Nothing from development economics to death is outside the scope of design any longer.

Hailing from Florence, Arabeschi di Latte use food as their weapon of choice for design good. All women, and all armed with the sensibility and sensitivity womanhood brings, their work is eminently pragmatic and simply beautiful. From their trademark “Gnocchi Bars” and “Interactive Dinners,” all the way to their guerilla rethinks of city spaces and more traditional product, visual design and food styling work, their processes focus on or use food to shift perceptions and build awareness. They aim to bring ritual back into dining, educating about the processes which bring food to our tables, and genuinely engaging people with food’s transcendent power. Plus they make things (and help others make things) that taste really, really good!

We were lucky enough to catch up with Arabeschi’s Francesca Sarti, between one of the collective’s many projects.

How did you learn to cook?
Organising Christmas dinner for 40-50 friends at home for years! Crazy!

How important is your being Italian to your work?
The Italian and Mediterranean conviviality is a key factor in our work.
From this tradition we understood how food can help to create a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere and how to create human experiences that show you something about relationships.

Interactivity is key in your work. Interactivity is key to food! How are you working to re-engage people with the things they eat?
Food is taken for granted…you go to the supermarket and everything is available everyday. We need to recover the experience of food, touching it with our hands to become aware of its importance. We try to do this with a certain playfulness, reviving rituals from the past and from childhood as we did in projects like “Gnocchi Bar,” “Pastificio,” and “BQ _Interactive Dinner.” You can talk about urgent problems, but with a touch of happiness!

Can good design help combat the world’s food problems? Obesity, malnourishment, contaminated water…
Yes it does! The designer’s point of view on these urgent topics can help to find unexpected and powerful solutions. Follow Designobserver.com and you will agree!

What do think of Jennifer Rubell’s expansive, explosive food works?
I love the brunch she did at The Rubell Family Collection last year for the occasion of the Art Basel Miami opening!

You’ve worked quite a bit in London and Tokyo. How do their food scenes compare to Italy’s?
In London and Tokyo you have such a great variety of cafes and restaurants. Moreover the cafes are much better than the Italian ones, where the lack of quality and care is even evident when you order a simple tea! Also, people have recently become more aware of food, of the role food has in society, of the importance of food quality, and of recovering the conviviality of the past and are very open to new experiences as well.

In Italy we have a strong tradition that is a great heritage but then the everyday offers are so poor…Think about having a lunch in via Calzaiuoli in Florence, corso Vittorio in Rome or Corso Buenos Aires in Milan…just to give a few examples. It’s a nightmare! Sometimes even heritage can become a constraint…

Is your approach to design affected by the fact that you’re a collective of women?
A “girly” touch has always been quite evident in our work especially at beginning when we liked to play with household themes and topics…with a touch of irony of course!

Are you concerned about the influx of more and more processed food, commercial farms and genetic engineering?
Yes, I am…the actual global food system is failing; we all should become aware of this fact and strive to explore new routes.

Food a century from now?
…I can only think about the aim everybody should have in mind: recovering FOOD QUALITY.

Favourite ingredient? Favourite dish?
Bread with water and sugar! So simple, so sober, so humble, so tasty…

Thanks a million Francesca! We’ll see you at Salone!

Interview and introduction Tag Christof – Images courtesy Arabeschi di Latte and Festival Arte Contemporanea – Very special thanks to Francesca Sarti