Can a spoon be a sin? Certainly, according to jewellery designer Gabi Veit from the South Tyrol. Inspired by the “seven deadly sins”, she has created a series of unconventional spoon characters. The playful cutlery and table utensils created by Kathleen Reilly from Scotland put an end to the convention of keeping silence at table. We spoke to these two young Ambiente talents about their bite-sized product designs.
One comes from the Italian Alps, the other from Bonnie Scotland. What Ambiente talents Gabi Veit and Kathleen Reilly have in common, though, is their sculptural perspective on everyday household implements. Their subversive designs shake our conceptions of established table manners. And they create depth with their clever use of irony.
So what does your spoon represent?
“The one with spikes stands for wrath. And for lazy people there is simply a straw as they don’t then have to spoon their food up,” is how Gabi Veit explains two of her unusual spoon creations. The artist’s imagination was taken with the ‘seven deadly sins’ of classic theology and she wanted to represent them with a series of experimental pieces made of silver, gold, bronze and iron. An empty ‘hand mirror’ epitomises pride and the spoon with the closed bowl is just right for the greedy miser who wants to keep everything to himself. “I like to watch people when they’re eating. How they eat is quite varied and shows up their different characters,” says Veit, who was born in Bozen, studied graphic design in Innsbruck and Venice and is now primarily involved in making jewellery. “The idea for these spoons came up in conversation with friends. What would a spoon that reflects my character look like? With spoons, it’s all about filling and emptying, giving and taking, reaching and achieving.”
Born with a silver spoon.
Gabi Veit‘s rough-finished spoons make ambiguous references and conjure up stories in the mind of the viewer. “I love the simple and infinitely rich design of the spoon. There are spoons all over the world, everyone uses them to eat.” We talk of people being born with a ‘silver spoon in the mouth’, which derives from the tradition of wealthy godparents giving a silver christening spoon to their godchildren. However, ordinary people might only have had one – often self-made – wooden spoon to their name. Her ‘creatures’, which is how Gabi Veit refers to the spoons, are for using – for instance to scoop salt or pepper. We find, though, that some of them are better suited to giving pause for thought at the table and, for that precise reason, leave behind a lasting impression. She designs the spoons like pieces of jewellery. They are all one-off creations – wrought, bent or, in a few cases, cast. The 7-piece series ‘Deadly Sins and Spoons’ has made its way into the collection of Leipzig’s Grassi Museum of Applied Arts. The spoon that she used to represent envy (Latin: invidia) is coated with lead and therefore ‘poisonous’. Why is that? Veit hits the nail on the head with her answer: “That’s simple. Envy is poisonous.”
A subversive spirit. The table as a place for laughter!
“The cutlery is easier to balance than you think,” says Ambiente talent Kathleen Reilly as she encourages us to experiment. Actually, these crescent-shaped pieces are easier to handle than you’d think. It’s best to forget any preconceived ideas you had about knives and forks when dealing with the designs of the 22-year-old Scot. The artist has blithely turned all rituals and visions of table settings on their head. She literally shakes up established ideas and concepts. Her salt and pepper pots approach cheerfully like two dancers and stand astonishingly steadily on their edges thanks to a connecting bar. If you want sprinkle salt on your food, you use the pepper shaker as a handle and vice-versa. This original ‘sculpture’ immediately encourages us to play and fool around. The Dadaist artists of the 1920s, who rejected logic and fought against conventional ideas and norms, would have rejoiced. “Enjoy your meal! Function and fun are one.” That’s the rebellious philosophy of Kathleen Reilly.
Forging a career
The young Scot has already won a number of awards for her cutlery and tableware concepts. She graduated from the Glasgow School of Art with a first-class honours degree in silversmithing and started her international career with exhibitions in Tokyo, New York and most recently Denmark. She is due to begin an MA in Jewellery & Metalwork at the Royal College of Art in London in September 2016 – a real accolade from the art establishment! There she will polish her skills in metalworking and jewellery design. “I already have experience in forging, grinding and water jet cutting,” she says. Hopefully Kathleen Reilly will not stop questioning table manners and playing with ambiguities in her designs. With what she displayed at Ambiente, it is clear that in time she could easily be one of the true greats of her genre.