Gifts Today magazine

Turning tableware on its head

Martin Kastner is a Czech blacksmith-turned-award-winning tableware designer who wants to bring eating utensils for hospitality into the 21st century

Blacksmith-turned-award-winning tableware designer Martin Kastner, who runs a design studio called Crucial Detail, started out restoring historical metalworks in the Czech Republic. Founding Crucial Detail in 1998 after his arrival in the US, Martin is best known for his Alinea servicewawre concepts, which secured him a place on The Future Laboratory’s list of 100 most influential individuals in contemporary design, as well as a 2014 IHA gia for Best Product Design.

It all started when Martin was approached by a chef – Grant Achatz – who was looking for new ways to serve food, who felt the old tools didn’t address well in today’s context, Martin designed a tool designed to serve a flavoured sphere of ice and the response was so positive, it marked the beginning of a collaboration with the chef on various aspects of the dining experience.

Martin has since designed food tool solutions to a number of problems: a self-supporting skewer that holds meat upright and allows the guest to swivel the food and put it straight into their mouth, for example. And a vessel that would allow a cocktail bar to infuse ingredients for a drink tableside, so guests could experience the transformation of the drink from start to finish. The result, called Porthole, was inspired by a submarine porthole and has been really successful.

“Tools can give the chef greater control over the eating experience,” says Martin. When you create a tool, you think of it as a tool with a specific use. But when it gets into the hands of a chef they see it through a different lens. Ultimately, we’re enablers, we’re expanding the toolbox of whoever is providing the experience for the end user.”

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