Currently there exists a disconnect and an abstraction in the atmosphere of consumption. Manhattan is a city of transplantation and thus a cultural melting pot. In regard to restaurants, the metropolis is a zoo. It exhibits thousands of dining establishments which have varying debased ethnic cuisines. Whether French, Italian, or Japanese influenced, these restaurants attempt to excite the senses and temporarily transport the individual to another place, through the use of associated visual references. Performing only aesthetically these pseudo-architectures suffer from interiors that don’t truly engage the multisensual act of consumption. I believe cuisine to be a specific understanding of composing local ingredients, materials, culture, politics, climate, and landscape. Premised on the belief that the culinary tradition’s originating locale is irrelevant but essential, my thesis seeks to create a functionally derived culinary architecture which is devoid of decorative ornament.
Unlike the industrialization, standardization, and subsequent homogenization of the fast-food industry, my goal is not to make a reductive functionalism. The fast architecture has unsuccessfully reduced all the activities of culinary production and consumption into one generic space epitomized by stainless steel kitchen surfaces and fixed hard plastic seating. I believe that just as the plateware changes form to serve a specific course of a tasting menu, so should the architecture. It is my goal to develop a space for eating specific to the different ways of consuming food.
To create an atmosphere of consumption, I look to reflect the nature of the food being consumed in the origins of food. This is consistent with current trends seen throughout the culinary industry. Known as the Slow Food Movement, peoples across the globe are preserving their culinary heritages as well as enhancing both the taste and pleasure of food through the awareness and the active consumption of seasonal and local foodstuffs. However, despite its quest for a sustainable cuisine, the Slow Food Movement has surprisingly not addressed issues surrounding the appropriate atmosphere of consumption. As a result, this convivial cuisine currently is experienced inside a disconnected architecture.
I believe that my new culinary architecture can be greatly enriched by reexamining the origins of the previously discussed pseudo-architectures. In visiting, consuming, analyzing, and documenting unique vernacular cultures around the globe that have greatly influenced American cuisine, I will attempt to identify the various components that create a true regional cuisine, specifically honing in on the relationship between food preparation and dining, and the architecture in which these activities take place. My research will require experiencing multiple factors of dining including food production and preparation, consuming at both fast and fine restaurants, home cooking, and street food as well as stages in the kitchens of the worlds must influential chef’s and discussions with relevant food and architecture critics. I expect each of these indigenous architectures to be loaded with local significance, yet it will be my challenge as unbiased practitioner of design to identify the performative and functional correlations between food and the material realm. My research will ultimately generate a collection of food and architectonic pairings which can translate into a more dynamic space of consumption.