A Gorgeous Salt Cellar That Mixes Craftsmanship With Modern Design http://www.fastcodesign.com/3020799/wanted/a-gorgeous-salt-cellar-that-mixes-craftsmanship-with-modern-design by Shonquis Moreno via @FastCoDesign

Feichtner’s solid silver salt or spice cellars come in three sizes and are gilded inside. While the form is wholly contemporary, the craft used to make it has been handed down through generations. This approach is typical of Feichtner, which designs avant-garde objects using the centuries of mastery accumulated by legends of Austrian design, including lighting for J. & L. Lobmeyr, jewelry for A.E. Köchert, seating for Kohlmaier, and tabletop pieces for Porzellanmanufaktur Augarten, Stamm and Wiener Silber Manufactur.

Like the elaborate functional artwork by Benvenuto Cellini, from which it takes its name, Saliera should be used more self-consciously and deliberately than a salt shaker, which dispenses food that the user never touches, thereby diminishing awareness of what is being consumed.

The cellars, which were launched during Vienna Design Week in September, can serve any herb or spice, not just salt and pepper. The name Saliera refers not only to the Cellini artwork but to several pieces replicated 400 years later by Jarosinski & Vaugoin, one of which was given to Queen Elizabeth II in 1969.

A sketch by the designer, showing how the cellars can be used either standing or lain on their sides.

Transparent plastic models reveal the cellar’s hidden structure. The opulence of its predecessor is mirrored in the gilded interior of the object and, ironically, in the soft austerity of its form.

The Saliera’s beveled base is soldered to its body by Jarosinski & Vaugoin craftsmen. Relative to its namesake, Feichtner’s Saliera is easily produced with methods similar to the ubiquitous Austrian gift, the silver christening cup. Feichtner always photographs the production process himself, incidentally documenting the enduring beauty of man and machine in the country’s oldest manufactories.

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A Gorgeous Salt Cellar That Mixes Craftsmanship With Modern Design

Austrian designer Thomas Feichtner takes inspiration from a 16th-century sculpture for a product that celebrates getting in touch with your food.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? By hand? Can’t remember? Although letter writing may not make a comeback anytime soon, other forms of handiwork have found new life as a host of designers discover that we’re using our opposable thumbs to produce more text messages than keepsakes. Among those trying to correct that trend is Austrian designer Thomas Feichtner, by reviving tactile craftsmanship through objects that dovetail the handmade and historical with the modern and the machine. His latest effort is the Saliera, a solid silver salt cellar for Jarosinski & Vaugoin, from which spices must be served the old-fashioned way—with two fingers.

Feichtner’s Vienna studio is a short walk from the 166-year-old silver manufacturer, and in spite of Saliera’s ascetic form, the salt cellar takes its name from an 1543 by Benvenuto Cellini of two golden nudes made expressly for serving, of all things, salt and pepper. "It is one of the most widely known pieces of art in Austria," Feichtner says, "so it was provocative to take the same name. It’s like a painter in Florence calling one of his paintings The Mona Lisa." Yet the name points to the designer’s habit of making uber-modern objects using traditional craft techniques accumulated over centuries by historical Austrian brands.

The original Saliera is a complex object full of symbolism and made of pure gold. "And yet, the only way to serve the salt is with two fingers," Feichtner says. "This simplicity beside its opulence impressed me." And so in this same deliberate way, the new cellar requires users to touch what they will eat—a small gesture freighted with big meaning these days.

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