In the global imagination, Italy means pasta and vice versa. The cliché, captured in “Mangiapasta” and other epithets (not always complimentary), transforms the country’s eating habits into the main characteristic of the people, fueling the stereotype of Italian identity. Not all Italians accepted this fate: in 1930, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti declared in the Manifesto of Futurist Cooking that it was time to abolish pasta as a symbol of the nation, an absurd gastronomic religion, which made people lazy and heavy and unprepared for an increasingly mobile and fast-paced life. Nevertheless, nothing has changed.
Food culture has stagnated in Italy, a country that freezes tradition through conservation and idealises the normal. If pasta is a symbol of being Italian, how can design be used to question its deep-rooted conventions? How do new methodologies, 3d softwares and new materials connect to a national heritage in which food, industry, and politics have always had a complex relationship? And what future possibilities do they reveal?
This project appropriates pasta as a primary source, beyond its culinary origins, to explore technology and making in a cultural context. By translating extrusion from the main method of pasta production to 3D softwares, new rules emerge for efficiency, form, scale, and process. This experimentation is an opportunity to create anew in a medium that is over 1,000 years old.
Of all the extruded products in the world, there is none more famous than pasta. It is imbued with multiple socio-cultural meanings existing in various forms since the 1st century and becoming a food staple, not just for Italy, but in many parts of the world. In Italy, common pasta is as representative of family gatherings as breaking bread and recalls the post-war era of industrialisation and prosperity. Regardless of how many culinary chefs elevate its more than 300 known shapes, its essence is one of democratic functionality, albeit bordering on kitsch in some circumstances.
Such was the subject of Gianmaria della Ratta’s contextual design masters at the Design Academy Eindhoven. He uses contemporary software to imagine the unexpected, and in Pasta Shootah – a deliberately colloquial title for the most populaire of foods – he has deconstructed the carb’s context by painting extrusion in a new light. Fabricated on a 3D printer, his furniture, bowls and sculptural elements are oversized tubes, reconfigured with adjoining pipes and support systems like something out of a science lab. Their oversized proportion and unfamiliar colourings quickly beguile the viewer into thinking futurism inspires them instead of the pantry. Fundamentally experimental, Della Ratta’s project challenges clichéd stereotypes and critiques the stagnant traditionalism in Italian design, simultaneously reversing form follows function and illustrating how future manufacturing can be as evident as the most humble of techniques. The young designer observes how his theory “Appropriates pasta as a primary source, beyond its culinary origins, to explore technology and making in a cultural context. By translating extrusion from the main method of pasta production to 3D software, new rules emerge for efficiency, form, scale, and process.”
From the book “A LABOUR OF LOVE” by Lidewij Edelkort and Philip Fimmano