Dinner Party asked its 9 hosts to explore personal, cultural, and social interests through the design of intimate experiences centered around food. As a fundamental basic need, made even more acute in our current global crisis, the consideration of where we eat, what we eat, how we eat, and in whose company is profoundly human and connects us all. Through examining eating environments and the services and objects associated with them, we propose how designers can engage the daily rituals of “eating” toreflect and reorder cultural practices. Our hosts spent the majority of the year using the “restaurant” as a setting for exchanges that far transcend the need for sustenance – from the celebratory to the transactional to the aspirational. In March plans were well underway for the studio to culminate in a 1:1 scale soiree where jurors and guests would be served strange and unfamiliar meals in settings created and fabricated particularly for this event and then…everything changed.
With the implementation of social distancing and against the backdrop of the collapse of the restaurant industry – the need for the connection and nourishment from a meal is more essential than ever. Inspired and challenged by our new reality, some of our hosts were compelled to reconsider their projects in the context of COVID-19 governed life while others dream of a time when their establishments can re-emerge along with society to connect diners through deliciousness and meaningful engagement.