Very Specific cutlery by Lee Ben David
designed for specific foods


Each piece in this "unnecessary" cutlery set by Israeli designer Lee Ben David has been shaped for use with just one specific type of food.

Very Specific cutlery by Lee Ben David

For her Very Specific collection, Lee Ben David produced a range of stainless-steel contraptions featuring attachments that make them suitable for eating foods that include artichokes, spaghetti, salad and edamame beans.

The designer's aim was to highlight the unnatural disconnect she believes cutlery creates between diners and their meals.

Very Specific cutlery by Lee Ben David

"When it comes to food, one of our most elementary and instinctive needs, we use cutlery as an extension of our body, avoiding the touch of food with our bare hands," Ben David told Dezeen.

"We seem to forget how much fun it was as kids to eat cake with our bare hands," she said.

Very Specific cutlery by Lee Ben David

While researching the cutlery set, Ben David encountered an "absurd" amount of variation in the cutlery used in formal dining, such as a knife designated only to fish dishes and the salad fork.

Very Specific cutlery by Lee Ben David

"I’ve decided to demonstrate the extreme situation we’ve gotten into, using my 'very specific' cutlery set," she said.

Very Specific cutlery by Lee Ben David

Her collection includes a three-pronged instrument designed for consuming cherry tomatoes. Its prongs flex to accommodate tomatoes of slightly varying sizes.

Very Specific cutlery by Lee Ben David

A fork with a clamp attached to one side is intended to catch the loose ends of spaghetti to spare the eater indignity, while a pair of hinged knives deal specifically with too-hot pitta bread.

Very Specific cutlery by Lee Ben David

Ben David also combined a knife and fork in a utensil designed for use at cocktail parties. The knife and fork lever can be operated by one hand, leaving the other free to hold a plate.

"I’m thinking seriously about manufacturing that one," Ben David told Dezeen.

Very Specific cutlery by Lee Ben David

The final pieces are a potato-peeler shaped implement devised to extract edamame beans from the pod, and a double-ended trowel and prong set designed to pluck the leaves and scoop the flesh from artichokes.

Very Specific cutlery by Lee Ben David

"There is a type of product that you don’t really need, but you still want. I hope people will respond to my cutlery set with a smile, that might arise from their sense of criticism. Some people will laugh and others will want the product," she said.

  • TFO

    Very Cronenbergian… #mutantdiners

  • Zee

    A couple of thoughts:

    I’d love to see the research behind this project. I’m especially curious to know if this designer looked into 19th century developments in formal dining cutlery because some of the designer’s ideas seem to stem from the historiography dealing with that specific time.

    But I also wonder where the real ‘statement’ in this project really is, apart from the designer’s obvious nostalgia for childhood? What is so ‘extreme’ or ‘absurd’ about having utensils specifically designed for certain foods?

    Also, why artichokes, spaghetti, edamame beans, etc? Why not other foods? The choice of foods engaged with here just seems really random and unsubstantiated.

    Isn’t it ironic that the designer wants to critique the absurdity of ‘specific cutlery’ by creating a set of specific cutlery? I guess I fail to see the originality in the interpretation.

    Without more explanation, this series of specific cutlery just comes across as a novelty.

    If I’m missing something here, please feel free to point it out.

    • Ze’ev

      @zee Apologies, but you’re being too fussy- These are the tools which match these type of food. I think what it shows is there are infinite forms of tools to match every possible type of food.

      This sort of inventiveness is common through history – think of the Victorians who saw a pineapple for the first time (compare to the way it is served today – peeled, hollowed and canned) – that was the dawn of globalised commerce which was riding on the tidal waves of Colonialism.

      To the designer – some great ideas here. Go ahead, invent as far as you imagination allows you! It is the role of critics and academicians to resonate after you and give meaning to things they can not create themselves.

    • Anon

      I personally think a project like this (playfully subversive) is at its best when certain design decisions remain ambiguous (or at least are not the focus). The moment you try to justify choosing certain foods, it loses its humour. It’s like trying to explain a joke. I like the idea of looking at Victorian cutlery.

  • Very creative and effective. The only downsides are cleaning and storage.

  • mario

    That spaghetti fork is a design crime.

  • ngfd

    It’s funny because normally I hate the “useless design” featured on Dezeen but actually I would totally buy a fork designed specifically for pasta. I can never properly roll that stuff with a normal fork.

  • RotterdamCynic

    I like the concept behind this, but agree with other posters that there might be a little more display of process, i.e. why were these foods chosen etc. Also, I’m sorry to say but the build quality on these examples is very poor. Overall this looks like student work, which is fine, but if it is, it should be labelled as such.

  • Rae Claire

    I have a set of Sterling flatware from the early 20th century. The choice of utensils would amost prevent one from ever finishing a meal. Asparagus tongs to ice cream forks… and not a guide book in sight.

  • blah

    Display of process would be great but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a great concept. Without the artist’s intent in mind, these designs are a great example of how Westernized cutlery adapts to our food and eating habits. Many times over bearing but not without exceptions (these are the exception, obviously in your face but also ergonomically sound to an extreme). Whereas, for example, you can enjoy several dishes with chop sticks mainly because many are prepared with ease of consumption subconsciously in their mind. I’d love to see some research on chop stick / food development throughout history. Maybe also the lack of cutlery vs prepping and consumption. In the end this project is on its track: design + functionality + creativity.

    • Zee

      I highly recommend Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork if you’re interested in the history of food preparation and kitchen utensils, cutlery, etc. Also has some reference to chopsticks if I remember correctly.

  • guz

    This must be a joke.