If food scarcity is a fact of the future, how will we adjust our meals and diets accordingly? This question is at the forefront for those researching sustainable technologies at every level of the food chain, from farming to distribution. It even concerns those who design for the table. Studio Playfool recently introduced a series of mirrored dinnerware called HALF/FULL. The studio was founded by Dan Coppen and Saki Maruyama, a duo of graduates from London’s Royal College of Arts. Their idea is to make food portions look twice as big, allowing us to consume smaller, sustainable amounts of our favorite energy-intensive foods while still feeling satisfied.
Anyone who has ever tried to simply half the amount of food they eat, only to feel hungry moments later, realizes that finding more sustainable ways to continue eating certain foods is more complicated that just “eating less.” Satisfaction isn’t felt just in the stomach, it’s also felt in the mind. According to research from the University of Tokyo, the volume of food present on your plate influences how satisfied you feel with your meal. So if you’re used to topping your toast with a whole avocado, just saying you’ll use half leads your brain to feel like you’re missing out—and your stomach to keep grumbling.
But what if you could make that leaner avocado toast look just as bounteous as your current one? That’s the idea behind this mirrored set of dishes from Studio Playfooool. The entire line includes a cereal bowl, small plate, dinner plate, cup and utensils. Each piece has a mirror placed in a strategic area designed to make “half” portions appear like “full” ones. Studio Playfool cut in half the cereal bowl, small plate, cup and spoon and replaced the missing side with a mirror to give the appearance of a “full” meal. Your cereal seems to overflow from the bowl, a couple clumps of granola look like a full spoon and a half glass of juice appears just as satisfying as a full glass. While the feeling of eating from a flat sided cereal bowl might not be different from wrapping your hands around a regular bowl, the visual presentation is remarkably familiar.
The dinner plate, fork and knife have the same shape as traditional ones, with a reflective surface attached. Having dinner from Studio Playfool’s plate looks same as eating from a regular dinner plate, except there is a mirror on the bottom. Place a thin steak set on top of it and it feels uncanny. You see the line dividing the steak in two, but your brain can’t quite help but believe the entire tall piece is still there. This similarity continues with the combination of the knife and fork, which reflect a full 360 degree image of a thick steak back to you, despite the smaller portion size.
While there exist many ideas of how we might futureproof our diets and shopping habits, Studio Playfool’s reflective HALF/FULL tableware set is innovative for demonstrating how the tools we use to eat can also contribute to the changing dietary landscape. If we’re to eat in a way that supports the earth’s dwindling resources, we’ll need to change our dietary habits—but it’s unlikely we’ll want to give up our favorite foods. Studio Playfool’s dinnerware gives us hope that we might not have to change all our habits quite yet.