Experience Mindful Dining
Art & Design
Experience Mindful Dining with the Minimalism of the Balsa Range…

When is a spoon not just a spoon? Or a fork not just a fork? When it is part of the multi award winning Balsa cutlery range. A range which, we feel, encourages the diner to be just a little more mindful.

Not because the elongated form, inspired by the shape and lightness of the balsa tree, is beautiful. (It is.) Not because each finely crafted piece is a pleasure to hold and to use. (It is.) And not because it has been recognized by four international design competitions for innovative, pioneering, design excellence. (It has.) But because, in the detail of the design is a feature so slight that it is very easy to overlook.

After all, we tend to look at what’s there, rather than what isn’t. We notice the mirror finish, an obvious design point. We notice the simple but lovely, arboreal shapes of the pieces. We might even notice the tensile strength of the 18/10 stainless steel. This feature, however, and often the essence of being mindful, is an absence of something - capacity. There is a slight but noticeable, and intentional, reduction in the usual portion capacity.

If it is noticed, (when it is eventually noticed!), it might be attributed to a simple conceit of the designer - something merely, deliberately, different from the ‘norm’. (It isn’t.)

The reduced capacity means that, while eating from something that is a joy to hold and to use, it becomes much more difficult than it normally is to rush a meal. More attention is required for each mouthful. The pace of eating is slowed. Taking each mouthful becomes a more conscious act. Thus the food and the act of eating come into focus, rather than providing a barely registered background for conversation or for the random series of thoughts to which we are all subject.

Buddhists call these random thoughts, ‘monkey thoughts’ because we swing, randomly from one to another without noticing where they take us or where they come from, like monkeys swinging from tree to tree. And our conversations often follow the same random patterns, while much of the detail of our present moment, the experience in which we are living, becomes vague and blurred. If we are honest, most of us have to admit that much of the time we place food in our mouths without thinking about it, sometimes without really tasting it while we are distracted by other things, including our own thoughts.

But while joyful and spontaneous conversation are one of the great pleasures of life, it is also true that a carefully created meal is meant to be experienced in and for its own sake. Enter, mindful dining.

The tastes, smells, colours and textures created by a skilled chef are not accidental. These too are among the chief pleasures of life. And when we are fully engaged in the experience of tasting, smelling, feeling and seeing the food we eat, we find ourselves inexorably drawn into the moment where we are, precisely and fully aware of the experience we are having.

There is a term for such an awareness, such ‘presence’ in the moment and in the experience. The term is ‘mindfulness’. Simply being present, fully and completely aware of the being and experiencing. This state is one which hugely improves the state of body, mind and heart, one which we would all benefit from cultivating. And this simple ‘less is more’ design feature of the ‘Balsa’ range can help to do just that.

When is a spoon not a spoon? When it is everything and more that a beautiful utensil should be – and then something else entirely. When it is an aid to mindful living.