London Design Festival Gets Cooking with Wild Mushrooms

les girls photo

Images by B. Alter

Is this a design festival or a food festival?. This installation brings together wild mushrooms, foraging and design in one glorious room.

Called Super Natural, it is dedicated to foraging, collecting and observing in the English countryside. Visitors get to smell, taste and eat wild mushrooms, alongside some stunning decor and organically inspired hardware.

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Image from mocoloco

Arabeschi di Latte have been at previous design festivals. They are a group of feminist Italian architects who focus on food and our relationship to it. They create events and performances relating to experiential responses to food. They believe that food is not just "on the plate" but everything related to it.

This year they have teamed up with Studio Toogood to present a whole project dedicated to foraging, collecting and observing the English countryside. As you enter the old abandoned garage, the smell of mushrooms overwhelms. The aroma has been specially created by one of the world's leading perfumers, Francis Kurkdjian. He describes the experience as "a magical autumn walk through the woods, right after rainfall, when furtive rays of sunlight caress newly born mushrooms and call out the magical forest creatures. The air is saturated with the scent of lichen, wet leaves and tree bark."

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Then come the mushroom wagons, displaying all kinds of wonderful mushrooms foraged from the countryside. These have been collected by Mrs. Tee who is an authority on edible wild mushrooms and has been supplying chefs with them for 35 years.

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Studio Toogood have filled the garage with collections, all using wood, brass and stone and emphasizing the use of English-sourced materials and English craftsmen.

Faye Toogood has created the wonderful benches filled with hay and covered with burlap fabric that is digitally printed.

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On the walls there are old binocular cases which have been recycled into handbags. There is a series of handles and hooks which have been cast from objects in Toogood's personal collection - stones and rocks collected around England, and old bones found on the banks of the Thames.

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And then the food. Today the girls are serving up mushrooms on toast at the Bramble Cafe. Delicious. They are also hosting several evening tasting sessions. These will feature such delights as an autumn game supper where guests prepare traditional dumplings. At Mrs. Tee's wild mushroom suppe, she will be talking about her experiences in the New Forest, and then the lucky diners will be making classic Risotto al Funghi.

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