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If COVID-19 drags on, this is what sharing meals will look like

A Croatian design studio creates a tongue-in-cheek (and slightly dystopian) collection that reflects on how difficult it is to share meals with friends during the pandemic.

Oh, how I miss eating with other people. It’s been six months since I’ve dug into a family-style dinner with my mother or hosted a long, boozy dinner party or grabbed sushi with a friend after work. The pandemic has transformed mealtime into a largely solitary endeavor, except for the brief interludes when my 4-year-old flings yogurt at me with a spoon.

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[Photo: Nikola Zelmanović/courtesy Boir]
Boir, a design studio in Croatia, has seen my anguish and created a tableware collection that is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on our current dining woes. The line, which is strictly conceptual, is made of five items designed for a couple who wants to remain socially distant but still enjoy an intimate meal together. In a description about the collection, aptly called The New Normal, Boir explains that the collection was spurred by the wave of restaurants redesigning their dining rooms with safety precautions like plexiglass barriers. But this raised a question: How do people who are not in the same quarantine bubble split a dish? “Our conceptual tableware retains that important social and cultural dimension of dining—sharing,” the designers say.

[Photo: Nikola Zelmanović/courtesy Boir]
The collection focuses on dishes that are most likely to be shared, like dessert, amuse-bouches, or bread. There’s a bread basket that has divider in the middle. A prosciutto rack has two separate sections along with pincers that allow you to take your allotment of meat in a sanitary way. My favorite piece is designed for dessert, the part of the meal I most enjoy sharing. It features two little plates along with very long spoons that make it impossible to feed yourself; the goal is to feed the other person. It’s the perfect tool for a romantic, socially distant date night with your new flame.

The tableware is largely made from steel to reflect our newfound obsession with cleanliness. There are also fragments of stone in the middle of the sharing platter and the amuse-bouche platter. The designers say they intended for this to “soften the stern impression” of the collection, but from my perspective, they only further suggest the severity of the situation at hand. Slicing the platters, they look like mountains rising between ourselves and the person with whom we are sharing the meal. It’s a fitting symbol for these times.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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