Last week creative producer, Kaye Winwood and myself started our research residency in the school of chemistry department of the University of Birmingham.

We began our research with a conversation about ergonomics thinking about bulbous forms and looking through books based on food and sensuality dining. Our attention was turned towards Bacchanalian feasts and wine and a found object;

A Victorian female urinal bottle. Drawing inspiration for this we started sketching ideas, as the sketching developed our ideas and discussion led us to focus on the most sensory perceptive areas of the body, thinking about haptics, weight, perception, sensoriality and materiality. Three different prototypes emerged that captured our imagination and it is now in hindsight that the work we are designing share similar ideas and concerns that Franz West’s’ ‘Apdaptives’ does. We played with his sculptures when we went on a research trip to the ‘Body Extended: Scupture and prosthetics’ exhibition at the Henry Moore Insititute last year. Looking forward to tomorrow’s session with Scientific glass blower Steve Williams.


Will post progress next week.



Image Credit: Kaye Winwood

Last Wednesday, Kaye and myself presented Expanded Intimacy; it’s research and the prototypes so far, to an audience to gain their feedback. The intention being that from this exchange the knowledge gained will feed into the next steps of our collaboration.

It’s quite interesting to have an audience experience and give opinion on the project so early on in our research/design development. Just 6 weeks into our residency! I believe that this will enhance and enrich what we do next.

We presented three different glass art objects. Each object has been designed to engage with one of the most sensitive areas of the body, namely the mouth and tongue, the hands and fingers.  We presented the art objects in a sequence, isolating or perhaps highlighting the bodily/sensory pleasures;




Throughout the course of the evening, I started to consider that the user actually became the performer themselves. Performing with the object, the culinary concoctions and whilst doing so, used all their senses. This combination of object, content and user is enabling us to produce a participatory experience, rather than something that you might contemplate behind glass or on a plinth.

‘Fingers’  became an extension of the users hand, their touch. As they brought the glass attached to the hand up to their mouth – looking directly into and onto their own hand:

Image Credit, Kevin Ryan


‘Tongue Ladder’ saw the audience become even more intimate with the object. Tongues licked through each culinary texture…

Image Credit, Kevin Ryan


‘Mouth’ The audience needed to place their whole mouth into the glass, then bring their heads fully back supported by a performer so that they could receive the contents.  Highlighting the correlation between the senses and how our sense of smell is connected to our taste.

Image Credit, Kevin Ryan.


I noticed gestures and bodily postures became exaggerated,  reminding me that language is embodied.

Language requires a physical embodiment, our mouths turn words into flesh.

Our hands’ externalise the functions of our mouths.




The hands relationship to the mouth, is a mutual interest to Kaye and myself. For awhile now we have had many conversations about the hands’ connection to our mouth, so it feels very natural to play with this notion.

We have been reading ‘The futurist cook book’ Filippo Tommaso Marinetti:

and developing the culinary cocktails with Rob Wood from our glass prototypes and of course trying them out, a very pleasurable task!

Sartre writes in ‘Being and Nothingness’ that “Each attribute reveals the being’ of the object” With this in mind, we are constructing the flavours and textures for each object. As well as considering the combination of object, content and user.

Our research and it’s developments has inspired me to re-visit ‘The World Of Perception’ where Maurice Merleau-Ponty argues that “The unity of the object does not lie behind it’s qualities, but is reaffirmed by each of them: each of it’s qualities is the whole.”  This way of thinking and engaging with objects, seems very fitting at the moment.



Just when I thought that our research residency couldn’t of gotten any more exciting, it did! We started to make our designs with glass-blower Steve Williams in the lab and it is proven to be very re-warding for both parties. We are certainly pushing the material to it’s limits and I am reminded of it’s fragility.

I am also reminded that all the wonderful possibilities of developing a material or design is in the making process. As blowing scientific glass is a new process for us, it was equally exhilarating and hypnotic.

We are attempting to create a more tactile presence to the glass for handling, so have started to develop ways to give the glass, finger smears and ripples on it’s surface:

We also had a Meeting with Scientist Zoe Schnepp

Where she shared with us her exciting research. Zoe uses a lot of biopolymers, including alginate and she has also done extensive research with gelatine as well as using spherification in her teaching demos. I now see gelatine in a different way and my mind is completely brimming with ideas.

Equally as inspiring was our meeting with mixologist Rob Wood

Rob’s impassioned historical knowledge of ingredients and alcohol is remarkable and our day of designing concept cocktails to match our three different glassware vessels, flew by. Our intention is to play with your perceptions and senses, when handling the glass and consuming it’s delicious content.

The consumption of the food is as important to the piece as the sculptural nature of the vessels. The combination of the two allows us to make it a performative, participatory piece rather than something you encounter for contemplation. Considering the food’s textures, weight and aesthetics, just as we are the object’s, and then to combine the two, to create a sensual experience really delights and fascinates me. I am really looking forward on continuing to develop this research and it’s collaborations.