Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts Omaha, NE 2015
As a potter I wanted to explore the question, ‘How does what we eat off of influence what we eat?’ I partnered with health coach Todd Fitzgerald and created a focus group interested in learning about nutrition. With their feedback to make the design practical and informative I created a dish set that incorporated portion size into the pattern.
I made nine place settings and gave them to participants. Everything we ate from Nov 10 - Dec 10, 2015 was from the dishes. We ate from them at home, took them to work, out to restaurants, at dinner parties and Thanksgiving. Via a blog we reflected on the impact of the dishes, shared recipes, and wrote about our experiences and interactions. I feel like I’m only beginning to explore the potential between our dishes and our health.
About the Dish Design
- Average dinner plates in the 1950’s were 9” compared to todays 10 ½” or more. Our plates revert to the 9” portion size of the 1950’s. The large rim makes the plate feel full with less on it.
- The general rule for how much water an individual should drink is 8x8, or 8 ounces 8 times a day. The cup distinguishes 8 ounces, 12 ounces, and 16 ounces so it can be used for a variety of liquids meant to consume in small or larger quantities.
- The larger bowl denotes 1 cup and 2 cups, meant for soups or salads.
- We included a smaller bowl with a quarter cup and half cup measure for snacks and desserts. Food is our source of life and energy, and a pleasure we should celebrate. By being conscious of the quantity we eat we can still fuel our bodies and enjoy without overindulging.
Our first meal was conceptualized by Sarah Beadle, an artist who uses food as a medium and fellow resident at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Each dish was inspired by what local birds, bees, and butterflies eat. The drink was red clover, elderflower, and mint.
Each day we posted about our meal experiences in our blog. As a resident at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts I lived alone and ate the majority of meals while reading a magazine. The dishes allowed us to measure how much we ate as we served ourselves.
Over Thanksgiving we ate from our Portion Plates. Although I was going to let myself eat as much as I wanted by going back for seconds I found myself satisfied after one serving. Had I piled my plate with more to start with I would have undoubtedly eaten more. We also found the reverse to happen – people started filling their large bowl with salad to eat more healthy foods.
First dinner photos by Mike Machian.
"As for my personal experience with portion plates - I LOVED them! I found something very precious about eating out of a hand made dish. I found that I often thought more about what I was eating and where I was eating when using these plates. It was a much different experience than using a typical dish set." -Linda