The kitchen has changed. Over the centuries, it has evolved from a fire pit and a flat stone into an elaborate place for storing, making, and eating food. But in recent years, notwithstanding the rise of “the foodie,” it has devolved, for many, to little more than a microwave and a sink. We eat out or on the run, and when we do use kitchens, prep work has been outsourced to backroom workers making convenience foods, as science and technology streamline food production from field to table.But go to any gathering or party, and you’ll know exactly where guests and hosts will be hanging out. During a two-week residency at the Walker, Carl and Betsy DiSalvo explore the inevitable pull of the kitchen as a social space: a place for sharing knowledge, culture, and community.
The Atlanta-based duo—designers and researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology—are expanding, in part, on their “urban foraging” workshop held last summer at Open Field. In unpacking a constellation of kitchen issues, from organic farming to urban food deserts, that daylong project included forays into downtown Minneapolis’ skyways, farmer’s markets, and storefronts to source materials for a shared meal.
This June, the DiSalvos focus on reconceiving the kitchen: its ingredients, structure, and functions. Teaming up with University of Minnesota scholars and students, they will consider that space from an array of vantage points: studio art, landscape architecture, food systems, urban planning, design, ceramics, public health, cultural studies, theater, engineering, and more. Participants will design and build a new kind of kitchen—a mobile, modular “lab” that can be set up anywhere. They envision a public place where people congregate for experiences with food, and in the process spark new kinds of social interaction and civic engagement.