Communal tableware

A pair of University of Plymouth students have received Royal Society recognition for their innovative designs of new equipment that address topical issues around food, hunger and the act of eating.

Sarah Boot and Tom Lloyd-Davies, both from the BA (Hons) 3D Design degree, were honoured at the Royal Society of Arts’ Student Design Awards 2019/20 for their imaginative responses to food poverty and communal eating.

Sarah’s design of a mobile trailer that could be used to prepare and serve food in outdoor settings won a £250 Legal and General Award. And Tom’s project to create a new form of communal tableware was commended by the judges.

“The Royal Society of Arts is internationally renowned, and this is one of the highest honours a student can receive,”

said Mike Woods, Program Leader and Lecturer in 3D Design in the School of Art, Design and Architecture.

“These awards place a special emphasis on big societal and environmental problems, which is one of the areas that designers can make a fundamental difference.”
The inspiration for Sarah’s innovative flying saucer shaped equipment, named the Unmissable Food Organisation, came after she attended a University workshop around ‘holiday hunger’.

“Listening to all of the guest speakers, and talking to people who work for food organisations, I was shocked by the enormity of the problem and inspired to start there,”

Sarah said.

Over the course of eight weeks she worked on the concept, which could be used by a social enterprise to cook food in outdoor settings, with integrated seating for children to join in the preparation and the eating.

“Tackling the national food crisis at a smaller, local level, makes the most immediate impact on individuals,”

Sarah added.

“It would need to be done sensitively though, celebrating and exploring a range of healthy foods and educating where possible. I’m delighted to have won this award, and it will be interesting to see whether any businesses would like to develop this project further.”

Tom’s commended entry was based upon the concept of ‘forming new traditions’ in relation to food preparation and eating.

“Food is a universal language that we all share and a gateway to learning about different cultures,”

he said.

“This was the main focus of the project – learning about people through their food.”

Tom made the tableware by slipcasting a clay blend of terracotta and stoneware and created the lids – which double up as serving boards – from ash. And although he has no plans to take the concept forward at this stage, he is hoping to return to ceramics in the future.

“The innovation mainly comes from the concept of how they are used,”

he added.

“The design encourages everyone to contribute and therefore share in the preparation and eating, unlike usual tableware sets.”

Sarah and Tom are the latest Plymouth students to thrive in the Royal Society of Arts’ Student Design Awards, following in the footsteps of the likes of Aidan Postle & Jemima Oliver, Nicole Shadbolt & Meredith Thomson, Joe Coleman and John Caswell.

“The continued success that our students have had in the competition is a great validation for the way we teach them to respond to external contexts,”

added Mike.