The Clouds' flavors...
WHAF by David Edwards + Marc Bretillot
Valérie Abrial, March 8, 2016
Mathieu Bassée & Christophe Dubois
Mathieu Bassée & Christophe Dubois
Marc Bretillot & David Edwards: When design meets the culinary world

Valérie Abrial: How did your collaboration on Le Whaf start?

Marc Bretillot: Le Laboratoire came to me, which I took as a strong sign of trust. And I was enthusiastic because I am passionate about anything related to innovation and food. David described the project; I did not have to reply immediate; in any case, I don’t give fast answers… I need time to think. And then we agreed as to how to proceed.

David Edwards: I created the fi rst Whafs using what I knew from Pulmatrix, a biotechnology startup I helped start. With help from Jonathan Kamler and the LaboGroup we put the fi rst prototype together with piezoelectric crystals. It worked well enough during the party around Ryoji’s opening but ended up putting the cloud of fl avors everywhere. You could hardly see! Marc was with us that evening, and I asked him if he might be interested in an experiment around Le Whaf. Fortunately, he said yes. And that’s how it started.

V.A.: Was the crossing of your respective outlooks a creative force?

M.B.: Naturally! It cannot be repeated often enough that the mixing and crossing of cultures, knowledge, and different artistic sensibilities is always an enriching experience. It’s a case of 1+1= 3. And I believe that the 3rd element is the work done to understand how the other party looks at things which, naturally, in turn, impacts and enriches our original ideas. It’s like two ladders pointing towards the same target with alternating bars.

D.E.: Typically, the question I would ask myself is: is it possible? Whereas Mark tends to ask himself: is it desirable? Two completely different things. Marc played an essential role in creating Le Whaf. It took a few months to complete, with help from LaboGroup’s José Sanchez and Jonathan Kamler. For example, Mark wanted to create a quieter, less turbulent cloud. We knew that the cloud dynamic was infl uenced by the particle size, and that we had to separate large particles from small ones. And Mark had the idea of letting the cloud fl oat away from the source of energy, which made this particle separation possible.

Le Whif_Felipe Ribon
Le Whif_Felipe Ribon
V.A.: What does Le Whaf represent in terms of the future of cooking and culinary design?

M.B.: It asks us questions about the immateriality of food. It is a contemplative object (at least in its initial version). At the end of World War II, we faced a need for food. Nowadays however, we have the opposite problem; namely, how can we eat less? And even though we want to eat less; that is to say, fewer calories, we want more and more pleasure. Whaf could be a way to resolve this dilemma. In my opinion, as regards this project, the question of eating (satisfying physiological needs) is not primordial; however, it is the issue of eating as an expression of the cultural and societal act that is essential.

D.E.: Over the centuries we’ve been eating smaller and smaller quantities at shorter and shorter intervals. Whif and Whaf move us towards a future where eating is both an ephemeral and essential act, something like breathing.

V.A.: Do flavors, science and design go well together?

M.B.: If I might just replace your terms with what I consider to be the result of the words you use; namely: the taste, the understanding, the project. Put this way, it’s clear we are on to a winning trio.

D.E.: We saw with the Thierry Marx and Jérôme Bibette exhibition, that the encounter between culinary arts and science is more than fruitful. In fact, it is a fascinating experimental process, particularly suited to Le Laboratoire’s objectives. And the general public can participate in this experimental process in a manner that is both intellectual and sensual. Design plays an essential role in this public interaction.

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