Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli
by Jinhyun Jeon


Can the shape, texture and colour of cutlery change the way food tastes? Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Jinhyun Jeon created this set of knobbly, bulbous and serrated cutlery to stimulate diners' full range of senses at the table (+ slideshow).

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli by Jinhyun Jeon

Jinhyun Jeon, a graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, made Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli as part of her MA thesis about the relationship between food and the senses.

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli by Jinhyun Jeon

The project was inspired by the phenomenon of synesthesia, a neurological condition in which stimuli like taste, colour and hearing are affected and triggered by each other. People with synesthesia often report seeing a certain colour when they hear a particular word, for example.

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli by Jinhyun Jeon

To find out whether this "sensory cross-wiring" could be encouraged and used to enhance taste, Jeon created cutlery based on five sensory elements: colour, tactility, temperature, volume and weight, and form.

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli by Jinhyun Jeon

The ceramic pieces shown here explore the effects of colour, with various coloured glazes defining the tips of each implement.

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli by Jinhyun Jeon

Warm colours such as red and orange are supposed to increase appetite, says Jeon, and are most effective when used sparingly.

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli by Jinhyun Jeon

Other pieces are made from stainless steel, silver or plastic, and the various textures and shapes are intended to stimulate the sense of touch inside the mouth.

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli by Jinhyun Jeon

Above: photograph by Femke Riierman

The plastic pieces resemble glass, which creates a jarring sensation for the user when the item's appearance is incongruous with its feel. "We tend to believe our sight and touch would be the same, but this is not the whole story," says Jeon.

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli by Jinhyun Jeon

"The tools I created make us focus on each bite, feel the enriched textures or enhanced chewing sounds between bites," she told Dezeen. "If we can stretch the borders of what tableware can do, the eating experience can be enriched."

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli by Jinhyun Jeon

Other strange sets of cutlery we've featured on Dezeen include a set of knives, forks and spoons that look like workshop tools and plastic cutlery that clips together to form a small table sculpture.

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli by Jinhyun Jeon

See our top ten projects from this year's Design Academy Eindhoven show here.

See all our stories about cutlery »
See all our stories about tableware »

Photographs are by Jinhyun Jeon except where stated.

Here's some more information from the designer:

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli – 'Enhanced Tasty Formulas'

Cutlery design focuses on getting food in bite‐sized morsels from the plate to the mouth, but it could do so much more. The project aims to reveal just how much more, stretching the limits of what tableware can do.

Focusing on ways of making eating a much richer experience, a series of dozens of different designs has been created, inspired by the phenomenon of synesthesia. This is a neurological condition where stimulus to one sense can affect one or more of the other senses.

An everyday event, 'taste' is created as a combination of more than five senses. Tasty formulas with the five elements – temperature, colour, texture, volume/weight and form – are applied to design proposal.

By exploring synesthesia, if we can stretch the borders of what tableware can do, the eating experience can be enriched in multi-­cross­‐wiring ways. The tableware we use for eating should not just be a tool for placing food in our mouth, but it should become an extension of our body, challenging our senses even in the moment when the food is still on its way to being consumed.

Each of these designs has been created to stimulate or train different senses, allowing more than just our tastebuds to be engaged in the act and enjoyment of eating as sensorial stimuli, therefore it would lead the way of mindful eating which guides to rediscovering a healthy and joyful relationship with food.

Temperature: The temperature influences certain changes to the taste. Sugar starts to taste sweeter at body temperature. Salty tastes become stronger when the temperature drops. A sour taste will always be a sour taste when the temperature rises or drops. Bitterness decreases as the temperature rises above the body temperature.

Tactility: According to Dr. Linda Bartoshuk of Yale University School of Medicine, it is generally known that the tongue map is incorrect. Sweet, sour, salty, and bitter are perceived anywhere there are taste buds. When a strong sweet taste and strong salty taste are mixed, it creates a completely new taste. When salty and sour tastes are mixed, both the tastes soften. If the salty and sour tastes are mixed well, a sweet taste can be created. If the sweet taste is stronger than salty taste, the sweet taste becomes stronger. The different types of sensitive tactile spoons could not only stimulate our tongue, but also lips and the palate. The exact effects depend on the level of individual sensibility of our own tongue map.

Colours: Colours can increase appetite when using warm colours, such as red, orange, and yellow. Comparing how sweet tastes between red and yellow with the same level of sugar, the sweetness of the red (crimson, scarlet) coloured food is stronger than yellow. Orange stimulates the appetite, because orange has been found to increase oxygen supply to the brain, and stimulates mental activity. Yellow increases metabolism so it is a good choice for dishes or tablecloths. However, if the food and the table are arranged with warm colours, it could decrease the appetite. The warm colours are most effective when used in small amounts to create highlights.

Volume and weight: The volume of the hollow part of the spoon influences and enhances the auditory sense of the sound scraping against glassware, as well as our taste/appetite. A spoon that is 40g in weight can give us the sense of stability. However, if you decrease the weight to 10g, then we are able to feel the weight of food, making us more aware of the amounts of food that we are eating.

Form: Adding new elements to the general archetype of a spoon aims to give the sense of comfort in hand, but also makes using it more intimate. Changing the thickness of the handle can create more awareness when eating. Small amounts of food can become heavy, or big amounts of food increase awareness about the consuming moment.

How can we slow down the moment of one bite and taste enhanced sweetness, while nevertheless consuming less sugar? 'Tasty formulas', which have been created by Jinhyun Jeon, would help us to understand interesting ways of how we consume our food with the tasty cutlery for enhanced temperature/tactility/ colour/volume/weight/form, interpreted in synesthetic ways:
SWEET × 36.5°C = SWEET +++
SALTY × < 36.5°C = SALTY ++
SOUR × 36.5°C = SOUR × 100°C
BITTER × > 36.5°C = BITTER -­‐

SWEET + (0.5% × SALT) = SWEET ++

10% × (5R 4/14+5YR 4/14+5Y 4/14) = 2.0
90% × (5R 4/14+5YR 4/14+5Y 4/14) = 0.1
20% × R > 20% × Y

5cm3 × SOUND/ SIGHT = 10g × TOUCH
1mm × TOUCH > 10mm × TOUCH (y=f(x)) × TOUCH = Y

  • Yogi

    Is it just me or is it warm in here?

  • Andy

    Kind of gross.

    • J.S

      See through your mind, relax a bit more, why not?

  • Absolutely fabulous.

  • jessica

    I am so inspired! Really brilliant ideas!

  • Sofie

    This is a brilliant idea that deserves praise! Very good job!

  • blah

    Doesn’t really look like the mouth was the orifice these were designed for.

  • M.A

    When will the design world stop copying? Be more original and authentic. This is from 2010: <a href="http:// -” target=”_blank”> <a href="http://-” target=”_blank”>-

    • jin

      And so what? Dear, open your vision! Have a good day!

    • clair

      Are you serious? Open up your mind! The design world is not that narrow!

  • M.A.

    the link above doesn't work for some reason!

    • jin

      By the way, thanks for introducing the work I haven’t seen before. I also somehow am learning through your feedback! If you want to discuss more about the issue, feel free to contact me. I am so glad to share with you! Thanks!

    • jack

      Wow really? This looks nothing like that. Wow M.A I really don't know what to say. Take a second look at the pictures in this article and the pictures in your article. Ezgi Turkstoy made that cutlery to make a statement – not because he wanted to combine the touch, taste, and sight senses to make eating more enjoyable like Jinhyun Jeon intended to do.

  • nofelix

    Similar concept to Turksoi's but it's not a copy. Clearly a lot of original thought has gone into these designs.

  • Frank

    Not a copy at all. Think a little harder.

  • Ethan Park

    Hey! This link isn’t a copy. Did you really understand this design? It has a different philosophy, different point of view and different function.

  • Ryou

    To M.A, could you show your real name? I might ask Dezeen for your profile. Do you seriously think is this work copying the other one you linked? On the condition of anonymity then you can make a joke that was a cheap shot. Identify yourself!

  • Irene

    We were so impressed by the originality of this work. The designer has a great creative talent. She has enormous potential for development.

  • chetan

    Very refreshing.

  • Very interesting exploration. Possibly inspired by endless re-watchings of Nine 1/2 Weeks :P

    • blah

      I think these are more David Cronenberg than 9 1/2 weeks!

  • johan

    Wow! Ii am really impressed. Best thing I’ve seen in a long long time. I love designers who question those essential “banalities” and finally come up with something ground-breaking. Brilliant!

  • Julian

    Hello Jin. Congrats for your very well thought-out design. I get quite tired of looking at the Dezeen stories that begin with the sentence “a design that looks like…”

    I think your ideas are clever, witty, sensual, well realized and very unique. They are not merely shapes at random, they are also very emotional and turn toward the human senses and trigger thoughts and of course also associations. Great stuff!

  • Samantha

    Lovely! I want these so bad now. I just love creative things like this. The world needs more goodies like these!

  • martijn
  • Kyla

    I would really enjoy these! I wish you could buy them :)

  • H.B

    How do I get some?

  • Char

    I love them. Are you producing any to sell? I'd totally buy them :D

  • Lightining Gonzalez

    How do you buy one?

  • Ak49537

    You should sell these :) I really wnt to buy them :P

  • Anonymus

    Can we 3D print your utensils.

  • Nick

    Are these utensils available for purchase?