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Posted in Living

To Set a Table

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Pott passen­ger flat­ware commis­sioned by Duetsche Lufthansa Airlines in the 1950’s and was used for 13 years. 

To set a table is a gesture full of humanity.The careful prepa­ra­tion for the meal, the arrange­ment of the seating, the placing of indi­vid­ual cutlery pieces to suit the partic­u­lar sequence of dishes that will follow. There is a place for each piece. A shape for each use. A tool for each hand.

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Mono A Cutlery, designed by Peter Raacke

There is a ritual to the way we use our cutlery, a rhythm of use connected to these simple tools, whose pres­ence at each meal marks our days. Despite being descended from sharp­ened hand axes, the oldest of human tools, flat­ware is also surpris­ingly modern; with forks in partic­u­lar having been limited to the tables of a select elite for centuries before becom­ing part of the typical western dining table. Today, our cutlery connects us to this potent history of prepar­ing and sharing meals.

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Inside the Hugo Pott Manu­fac­tory in Mettmann, Germany.
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Every C. Hugo Pott piece is hand­made at the Mono Manu­fac­tory in Germany. 
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The process of making the Hugo Pott flat­ware is nothing short of an art form. 

From as early as 1932, C.Hugo Pott defined them­selves as the pioneers of modern table culture. From their factory in Solin­gen in Eastern Germany, Pott designed and manu­fac­tured their flat­ware settings with a Bauhaus ethos: each piece was highly restrained, with a geomet­ric, unadorned form. As a complete collec­tion, a Pott flat­ware setting is refined, with a perfect harmony between the curva­ture of a spoon and fork, the breadth of a knife blade and handle. For Pott, the focus was on allow­ing the useful to become even more perfect and beau­ti­ful. With their designs, setting the table and enjoy­ing a meal became a simple luxury.

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Pott 22 flat­ware set, designed in 1957 and commis­sioned by the Munich Olympics in 1972

Later, in Italy, designer Gio Ponti refound inspi­ra­tion in the raw, ancient history of these tools. Carved, rustic forms appear in his early 1950s set for Reed and Barton. The 20th century Italian modernist devel­oped a sculp­tural cutlery collec­tion in ster­ling silver, with elon­gated, sculp­tural lines expres­sive of natural forms. Housed in a unique blue-velvet lined wooden box, the idio­syn­cratic design extended the rituals and plea­sures of the table.

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Modest and sculp­tural direc­tions were folded together in the 1970s and 80s, notably in a collab­o­ra­tion of Tobia and Afra Scarpa with San Lorenzo Studio. Growing out of an empathy for tradi­tional Italian crafts­man­ship, the Venice based archi­tects devel­oped an elegant, hand-made response. The rivet-handled pieces have an almost-regal elegance, despite their reduced forms. Undec­o­rated, the combi­na­tion of pure silver and Pietra Dura stone handles describes a modern, inno­v­a­tive and yet famil­iar design. These pieces are imbued with a sense of longevity, culture and readi­ness for the messy real­i­ties of use.

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Sketches from Tobia Scarpa for the Pan 999 collec­tion. 2015.

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Pott passen­ger flat­ware commis­sioned by Duetsche Lufthansa Airlines in the 1950’s and was used for 13 years. 

Beyond setting the table, the best flat­ware often goes unno­ticed. Used day in, day out, for a life­time or longer, these tools become exten­sions of our bodies, perfectly natural pros­thet­ics. There is a natu­ral­ness to the weight of a well-designed piece in the hand, to the balance and sensa­tion of the wrist rising and falling with each mouth­ful. Whether minimal or sculp­tural, refined or crafted, the perfect flat­ware pieces corre­spond to our eating habits, antic­i­pate our move­ments, and invite us, again and again, to prepare to share a meal together: to set the table.