28-year-old Saudi-Italian designer Lina Saleh thanks her Roman origins for having been exposed to art since she was a child. But when she grew up and moved to London, she developed a passion for objects. “To me, what differentiates design from art is purpose”, she says. Saleh became obsessed with finding meaning through different mediums, which drew her to the practice of combining design and food.
“My work seeks to explore the message that lies between the consumer, food and the chef, creating a sort of conversation amongst the three, by animating a typically inanimate object”, she says before explaining that her new series, aptly titled Living Plates, is a collection of silicone, jelly-like breathing plates that create a new way of eating. “I wanted to create a relationship between food and the plate holding it”, she continues. But although Saleh’s dining mise-en-scène appears playful, what’s actually most important for her is to use her experimental work as a space for interrogation and critique.
Saleh’s super-modernist, conceptually sensorial approach may look more like performance art than design work, and that’s intentional. Saleh isn’t interested in creating anything purely decorative. “My plates are definitely meant to be used”, she insists. By offering chefs a new medium of expression (the plate), Saleh invites us all to explore the role of food in society with one question in mind: what is the future of food?
We’re all used to seeing food from the perspective of consumption (which isn’t the best one for the planet) but thanks to Saleh’s boundless imagination, eating can also be beautiful.