PROEF by Louise Knoppert: Design for tube feedings.

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By Cristina Castellanos

Louise Knoppert is a talented young product designer from the Netherlands with an innate skill that helps her find simple solutions to create functional products and she always tries to keep emotional factors in mind.

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She has developed a set of tools with different flavours and textures, as a result of a study she carried out on people who are permanently fed through tubes that pump food into their stomachs. She found out that every year, five thousand people in the Netherlands have a feeding tube installed, which pumps food through into their stomachs and intestines. These people manage to live their everyday lives except for the fact that they cannot eat or drink, something a lot of us take for granted.

This problem affects people with various eating and drinking problems, who cannot obtain nutrition by mouth, are unable to swallow safely, or need nutritional supplements. It happens to people who suffer from dementia, terminal illnesses, eating disorders, neurological disease or even very young children who have trouble eating food normally.

If this involves five thousand people every year in the Netherlands, I dread to think how many people all over the world have these feeding tubes installed.

Louise talks about this project on her website and about how hard it is for her (and many of us) to imagine a life without having the pleasure of food and drink, and how difficult it must be to be forced to miss out on all the social events that revolve around food. PROEF is her way of giving these people the opportunity to be a part of a meal so that they can feel and experience it either again or for the first time. This is her way of making an open invitation to join the dinner table.

Louise has developed a set that comes in a box with various flavours, which are aesthetic ornaments with different shapes and colours at the tip. They are designed in such a way that they relate to particular cuisines or events so that people can relate to what others at the table are having. Various flavours, sensations, movements, and actions are simulated in order to restore a ritual that most of us take for granted. These tools give you the power and creative freedom to create a new food experience.

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The box includes a variety of sensations, flavours, feelings, movements and actions.

It contains:

SMOKE: An ultrasonic atomizer technology creates smoke from a flavourful liquid.

SPRINKLE: This piece sprinkles a liquid on your tongue, which melts and tingles as it spreads the flavour.

FOAM: This piece must be shaken to create foam. It is flexible so that you can squeeze out the foam, which will then make its way onto the textured surface. The foam creates a burst of flavour, leaving a tingly sensation and sound when it disappears.

ICE: You can create a tiny layer of ice around between the shape and the cap of this piece, which serves as a mould for a flavourful liquid. After freezing it, you can take off the cap and enjoy the cold sensation with flavour and texture.

PINCH: A pinch of powder that melts on your tongue.

SPRAY: Squeezing this piece will spray a mist, leaving a pleasant sensation and flavour.

ROLL: You can use this piece to roll the flavour onto your tongue and lips, which provides a massage and allows you to roll the flavours directly onto your taste buds at the same time.

SPONGE: This piece absorbs a liquid that can be squeezed out by using your mouth. The sponge feels soft, and the liquid inside is juicy.

DIP: This flexible piece is for dipping. After dipping it into a paste you can either lick it or brush it onto your tongue. The flexible arches make for a pleasant texture, and allow you to play with it.

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Louise’s designs are not only pretty ornaments but serve a much more important purpose for people who have difficulty eating a regular meal.

It would be really interesting to take this idea to different situations such as Christmas dinner, Easter lunch or traditional family gatherings such as birthdays and even cultural events, which include people sharing a meal round a table.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw Louise’s proposal envelops a feeling many of us share: “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

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