The New Normal: Changing Perceptions of Portion Size Through Tableware Design

03.26.19 | By
The New Normal: Changing Perceptions of Portion Size Through Tableware Design

Quantifying food for events is a caterer’s gamble. With every party we produce, a delicate guessing game of how much of each item to make comes into play. Our chef Bob Spiegel is the ultimate champion of this game… a 30-year catering veteran. Essentially you are banking on your experience… which items are crowd pleasers, which items are geared for the more adventurous eater, and of course plate size. It’s an educated guess at best. Luckily we almost always get it right.

Now comes the question, how do we quantify food for ourselves? A major factor in rising obesity is portion distortion. So as the portion sizes grow, a new normal is accepted. And now that 39% of adults worldwide are considered obese, even designers are jumping in to try and solve this issue.

We came across a stunning and relevant tabletop product from Royal College of Art graduate Ponsawan (Mo) Vuthisatkul that aims to challenge people’s perception of portion size. Vuthisatkul’s has created a series of food serving tools called The New Normal.

The collection takes cues from nutritionists who say that we can easily compare our food portion size with our hand. “I think this is a very interesting idea because hands are always with us and easy to understand by everyone,” Vuthisatkul says. “Each of the four bowls in the collection is designed to correspond to a different hand form that can be used to hold the item. These tools will help people estimate five basic food groups and then form a new memory and change behavior in long-term.”

The project aims to pose an alternative to traditional food measuring methods like calorie counting or mathematical measurements, which Ponsawan believes can be easily misestimated. Besides trying to communicate the new notion of eating portions and changing peoples’ perception of food serving size, this project aims to encourage the users to reconsider their relationship between food, body language, and food serving utensils.

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.