Pass the SALT: A Vessel Designed to Let You Witness + Experience Salt Harvesting

02.23.22 | By
Pass the SALT: A Vessel Designed to Let You Witness + Experience Salt Harvesting

Today, salt is one of the oldest and most ubiquitous recognizable flavors. Our palates would be lost without it – salt reduces bitterness, boosts flavors and preserves perishable foods. But it’s come a long way. From being a substance so valuable it served as currency, this common household item that shaped civilizations by establishing trade routes, provoking wars, and inspiring revolutions… is now served from a modest shaker on every kitchen table in the world. But do we really think about how we get salt… how special the process is?

With a little nudge to be more curious about where your food comes from, Studio BOIR brings an interactive experience to table salt. The studio that focuses on making products that represent materiality and process, was founded in 2018 by an interdisciplinary team: Vlatka Leskovar – Zidar, a product designer, and Ivan Zidar, a graphic designer turned chef. Ivan’s understanding of local ingredients and endless love for culinary experimentation blends with Vlatka’s ever-evolving exploration of the way physical objects inspire rituals and incite memories. Together, they create a unique platform for development of food design concepts.

Their SALT project questions what we know about salt, and lets the end user experience the excitement of witnessing the birth of those precious white crystals, and then offering us the satisfaction of harvesting them for ourselves.

Studio BOIR studied the five stages of traditional sea salt production of the Mediterranean along the Croatian Adriatic coast. During the first four stages, the water in salt pans evaporates during the long sunny summer days. During the fifth stage the brine, highly concentrated seawater, is ready to form salt crystals. Natural salt is a lovechild of the sea and the bright Mediterranean sunlight.

By mimicking the sustainable process of sea salt creation which the Mediterranean salt harvesters have been using for millennia, Vlatka and Ivan aim to map the authentic tastes of the natural Mediterranean Sea salts. By adding brines (concentrated seawater) from different microregions to their collection, they are bringing attention to the disappearance of traditional saltworks threatening biodiversity and hoping to preserve all the oligo-elements and true tastes of natural Mediterranean Sea salt.

Crafted by Croatian woodworkers and pottery artisans. Its elegant case comes in natural walnut with oil finishing. The ceramic vessel inside is coated with a waterproof enamel to enable the optimal salt crystallization. All the materials are safe for alimentary use. Each piece is hand finished with care resulting in unique variations in each item.

SAL⊥ is simple to use: pour in a thin layer of bottled brine Nin 28 Bé° that comes with the container, expose it to sunlight for an hour or heat it up in the oven. When the crystal pattern appears, it’s ready to be served and harvested with a special metal T-shaped tool.

Watch the unique patterns of white crystals appear against the dark background. Every time you pour in the sea water it leaves a different mark on the enamel, due to varied evaporation speed and different salt concentrations within the layer. Every time you get a different natural abstract artwork.

Serve the vessels with freshly crystalized salt to your guests. Invite them to observe and compare crystal patterns formed in each vessel. Let them enjoy their intimate ritual of salt harvesting by scraping the crystals with the T-shaped metal tool, reminiscent of the one used by traditional sea harvesters.

TJ Girard is a sought-after food designer and creative consultant, celebrated for staging theatrical, interactive food + beverage experiences. She now resides in California where her creativity is solar powered! TJ writes the Design Milk column called Taste.