Hong Kong designers Tomas Rosén and Nicol Boyd have created a flexible condiment set to put an end to mismatched bottles, jars and containers on the dining table (+ slideshow).
Rosén and Boyd, of Office for Product Design, noticed that most condiment sets hold predetermined combinations – salt and pepper, oil and vinegar – yet the condiments people want on their tables vary by country, culture and personal preference, resulting in a mismatched collection of containers.
The Taste Condiment Set for homeware brand Jia Inc consists of a moulded plywood stand that holds a coherent series of test-tube-like glass containers that can be used for different combinations of condiments.
Containers have been designed for salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, chilli, spices, dried herbs and toothpicks.
When they are stored in the stand, only the white injection moulded plastic tops are visible.
"The contents of the test tubes are concealed to create a uniform appearance when the inserts are docked," Rosén told Dezeen.
"By doing this we were able to bring a visual clarity to the set by concealing the wide variety of colours and textures of the condiments themselves, which would otherwise strongly affect its appearance on the tabletop."
Instead of displaying the contents, subtle visual references are included on the tops to reveal which container is which.
"We have relied on communicating the content through historically accepted typological cues, such as one small central hole for salt, multiple small holes for pepper, spouts for liquids etc," said Rosén.
The round-bottomed design of the glass containers prevents them from standing on their own, encouraging users to put the vials back into the stand after use so the table remains tidy.
"We noticed that waiting staff often have to rearrange condiment jars and cruets when clearing the table after a meal," explained Rosén. "That observation sparked the idea to design the containers in such a way that they cannot stand on their own, but have to be returned to the stand after use."
The condiment set is available as a four-piece arrangement of salt, pepper, oil and vinegar for Western users.
It also comes in a less-prescriptive Asian version that could hold soy sauce, vinegar, chilli and toothpicks for example, while a smaller set contains only a pair of containers.
Office for Product Design is a Hong Kong-based studio formed in 2007 by Nicol Boyd and Tomas Rosén, who originally began their collaboration while studying at the Royal College of Art in London.