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Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli: How Can Tableware Form, Color, and Texture Affect Taste?

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It’s products like Sensorial Stimuli Tableware from Jinhyun Jeon that spark new conversations about re-interpreting the purpose and potential of everyday product designs. Does an office stapler really have to be hard and rectangular? Does a coffee mug really have to be cylindrical? For her MA thesis about the relationship of food and the senses, Jinhyun threw all preconceived notions of what tableware could be out the window…and created spoons and forks that not only act as a food-travel vessel, but also as an entirely new eating experience.

Sensorial Stimuli Tableware by Jinhyun Jeon

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The tableware we use for eating should not just be a tool for placing food in our mouth, but it should become extensions of our body, challenging our senses even in the moment when the food is still on its way to being consumed.
-Jinhyun Jeon

For her MA thesis at Design Academy Eindhovenset, Jinhyun set out with a focus on developing richer eating experiences outside of the food itself. Through a series of dozens of designs inspired by synethesia (the neurological condition where stimulus to one sense can affect one or more of the other senses), she has essentially created a potential tastebud revolution.

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Five areas of taste exploration were included in the design proposal that included temperature, color, texture, volume/weight, and form. The final tableware designs range from ceramic to stainless steel, silver, and plastic with various texture and glaze additions. Jinhyun emphasized the importance of multi-cross-wiring in her project by not only focusing on the experience of the tableware in the mouth, but also the visual journey from plate to mouth:

“The tableware we use for eating should not just be a tool for placing food in our mouth, but it should become extensions of our body, challenging our senses even in the moment when the food is still on its way to being consumed.”

Ultimately–and perhaps most importantly, is how a product design like this can benefit those with various overeating and excessive sugar intake disorders (or in my case, excessive espresso intake). Through her research and exploration, Jinhyun developed a table of formulas to better understand the taste sensations:


SWEET × 36.5°C = SWEET +++
SALTY × < 36.5°C = SALTY ++
SOUR × 36.5°C = SOUR × 100°C
BITTER × >36.5°C = BITTER -


SWEET + (0.5% × SALT) = SWEET ++
SALT ÷ SOUR = SALTY/SOUR -
SALTY × SOUR = SWEET +


10% × (5R 4/14 + 5YR 4/14 + 5Y 4/14) = 2.0
90% × (5R 4/14 + 5YR 4/14 + 5Y 4/14) = 0.1
20% × R > 20% × Y


5cm3 × SOUND/ SIGHT = 10g × TOUCH


1mm × TOUCH > 10mm × TOUCH


(y=f(x)) × TOUCH = Y

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…that’ll give you something to think about as you eat lunch today.

(Images from Jinhyun Jeon)

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About simon

Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.

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  • Adam

    Those images freak. Me. Out.