Polish designer Martyna Barbara Golik has created a collection of textiles based on the different categories of flavour the mouth can taste. Touch That Taste! translates smell and taste into sight and touch, based on five main groups: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami —a savoury taste. These take the form of five textile objects designed for the home, including a rug, a pouf, a blanket, a room divider and a pair of slippers.
Golik’s project was influenced by synaesthesia —a neurological condition where the stimulation of one sense provokes a reaction in another. To create the collection, Golik asked 10 people to eat and smell food that had been specially prepared to represent each taste group, and attempt to translate their experience of each one into a visual reaction.
In response to their feedback, she chose two or three fabric samples for each taste and gave them back to the group and asked them to allocate the samples to the five tastes, helping her to narrow down the final materials used.
A circular white rug representing “umami” features six coloured spots made of technical felt, tufted woollen yarn and rubber—enabling users to explore its different structures and textures with bare feet. The “sweet” pouf is a collapsible cylindrical form made of memory foam covered with pink ribbed upholstery. The user slowly comes down while seated, creating a feeling of sinking in.
For “sour”, Golik created a blanket from a fringed grey woollen fabric tipped with yellow liquid rubber. A room divider representing “salty” comprises five layers of woollen and polyester fabric in different colours, some pierced with holes enabling the layers behind to show through.
The room divider invites a user to interact with it by changing, adding or removing layers. “It marks change and adaptability to different spaces. Finally, the foam and felt “bitter” slippers are both soft and heavy—weighing two kilograms each—making it difficult to walk in them.
“The Touch That Taste! collection tells a story about how the abstract can be turned into the tangible—about how an experience with food can be translated into a functional collection with a focus on experiencing the objects and creating a relationship with them.
Touch That Taste! was exhibited as part of the Ventura Lambrate design district in Milan during the city’s design week last month.