Food Shaping Kyoto

07.06.2019 – 17.06.2019

Buckminster Fuller Dome, Vitra Campus

During this year’s Art Basel, the Vitra Design Museum presents the exhibition »Food Shaping Kyoto« in collaboration with Basel-based architects Shadi Rahbaran & Manuel Herz and the KYOTO Design Lab. Running from 7 to 17 June 2019, the show visualizes the results of research and workshops conducted since 2015 in Kyoto, one of the most vibrant centres of food culture worldwide. Its distinctive environment and history illustrate how food has shaped the city’s culture and design, its physical fabric and architecture. »Food Shaping Kyoto« sheds light on the territorial dimensions of cities and the networks of material flow into which they are tied, questioning classical notions of a rural/urban divide: How does a city feed itself? How is food produced and distributed within in a city? And how are cities shaped by these dynamics? The exhibition includes video projections as well as installations specifically designed and built for the presentation in the unique space of the Buckminster Fuller Dome.  

Kyoto is ranked among the global capitals of food culture. Thanks to its natural environment and long history as the seat of the Japanese emperor, Kyoto has developed a rich tradition and culture of food production, distribution, and preparation. The city is home to a distinctive set of foods such as vegetables that are only grown in this region or locally produced edibles like »yuba« (tofu skin), »saba sushi« (preserved mackerel sushi), and high-quality sake that benefits from the softness of Kyoto’s water. As the seat of the imperial court, inhabitants developed and refined unique rituals of serving food, some of which are still seen in today’s »kaiseki« cuisine, small dishes served at tea ceremonies. In terms of distribution, the »Kyoto Wholesale Market« has been foundational for food trade in the city since 1927 and has been a model for similar wholesale markets across Japan. Additionally, »Nishiki Market«, located in the historic city centre, has served the general population for generations. It is not only a place of trading, but also for the production of specialized local foods, such as dried »bonito« (a species of fish) which is exported worldwide from the market.

A video projection installed in the Buckminster Fuller Dome immerses visitors in the »Wholesale Market«, the »Nishiki Market«, and other spaces of food and trade in Kyoto. Large circular tables visualize the history and long-standing tradition of food production and its impact on Kyoto, showing how the city is shaped by food, and how this is visible in the urban fabric. A collection of objects provides tangible evidence of the city’s food culture, while a suspended ceiling consisting of Japanese »shoji«-paper references the translucent »yuba« sheets hung to dry in the production areas of »Nishiki Market«.

Eröffnung und Food Performance
9 June 2019, 4 pm, Buckminster Fuller Dome, Vitra Campus

Kumiko Tanaka, head chef at a »Nishiki Market« stall, will be present at the exhibition opening. She will prepare traditional »dashimaki«: this Japanese-style omelette is made in »makiyakinabe« (rectangular frying pans) by mixing an egg base with »dashi« (fish stock made from dried bonito and brown seaweed) and constantly folding the mixture in the frying pan.

»»Food Shaping Kyoto« is an exhibition by the Vitra Design Museum, Shadi Rahbaran, Manuel Herz, and the KYOTO Design Lab.