If there’s a meal that tends to get short shrift, it’s breakfast. Which is a shame, because not only do studies show have found that eating in the morning helps regulate energy and mood, taking the care to prepare more than a pot (or two) of coffee might actually improve your outlook on life. At least, that’s the thinking behind the Brunch set, a collection of prototypes from Ivo Vos that actually encourages obsessive-compulsive behavior in the kitchen, enabling users to determine everything from the width of a bread slice to the angle at which it’s propelled out of the toaster.
Paradoxically, the set is meant to assuage neuroses, not foster them. “Interviewing an existential therapist, I came across a theory in psychoanalysis explaining how neuroses arise from people believing they lead meaningless lives,” Vos tells Co.Design. “This inspired me to design products that make us aware of the significance of banal activities.” The Dutch-born designer hopes that by indulging in exacting breakfast preparation, people will find comfort psychological comfort in the ritual.“Using each product involves qualities like skill, practice, patience, knowledge, and anticipation,” he writes. “It’s easy to forget what things we miss out on when we eat a Pop Tart, instead of preparing a proper breakfast, or when we buy Ready Meals, instead of spending time cooking our dinner. There’s a lot of qualities in the process of doing something, and easier doesn’t always mean better.”
The collection consists of five components: a toaster whose angle can be adjusted to eject toast directly onto a plate, a sensor-equipped teapot that records the distance from which it decants, a meat-slicer-like bread board, sugar and cream measurers, and a place setting with a graph pattern, allowing each utensil to be perfectly aligned. Vos has built the entire product suite as working prototypes, with the exception of the toaster, which, he says, would need “some love from a mechanical engineer.” But he adds: “There’s nothing in these prototypes that would be unfeasible to do.”
Now all he needs is a manufacturer. “For years, I have been getting several e-mails weekly from people that want to order the toaster or bread slicer, thinking they’re real products,” he writes. “I would love to work with a company like Alessi to bring these products to the market and allow these people to really use them for their breakfast.” If he’s right about their effects, the pharmaceutical industry won’t be happy about that.