Three questions for: Julia Kaiser
The subject of food is very important in our day-to-day lives. It is not just a question of simply eating it but, above all, one of enjoying it. And there are also the practical issues to consider such as transporting and preserving it. So it is not surprising that in responding to these issues food products are also subject to special requirements and requests. New technologies and research results are always creating new opportunities in this regard.
Yet new research results and technologies are often entirely unnecessary because previous generations have solved problems effectively whilst saving energy, like keeping food cool for example. To remember this and to revive forgotten cultivation techniques, Julia Kaiser’s graduation project tackles this topic, searching for opportunities to provide new applications for almost forgotten knowledge. We asked Julia a few questions about her product – the Glosch.
1. In your master’s thesis you examined the topic of “forgotten cultivation techniques in the pre-industrial subsistence economy”. What was the reason for specialising in this area?
The starting point was my involvement with the subject of urban agriculture in my bachelor’s thesis and cultivating useful plants in our apartment’s communal garden in St. Pauli in Hamburg. For four thousand years, people have been learning to cultivate the earth and to grow their food. Within two generations we have forgotten (almost) everything and abandoned production to industry. As part of the urban gardening movement, a type of re-skilling has been taking place, as described by the Transition Town Totnes organisation. The aim of Totnes, a small town in southern England, is to gradually become independent from crude oil. The local economic cycles in the town are being improved to reduce its dependence on imports. My thesis arose out of this and other incentives, the fact that the cultivation techniques of the pre-industrial agricultural population were becoming less and less known. My intention was to tackle the structural framework. I did not redesign any objects but rather I reinterpreted a pre-industrial cultivation technique. Consequently, new combinations of material and forms resulted.
2. How did the development process of the “Glosch” differ from other product development processes?
I did a lot of research before I was able to reinterpret old techniques from the pre-industrial era and develop a new design from these. I had to understand the whole picture of the agrarian population of that time who grew their own crops. This was the only way of understanding the added value of forgotten techniques for today. The “Glosch” is a re-interpretation of preserving root vegetables naturally in damp sand. With the help of the principle of evaporative cooling, the vegetables are kept fresh. Nowadays, cooling takes place in refrigerators which consume lots of energy and also drie out the vegetables. I was inspired by the French serving cloche used in haute cuisine to keep food warm before it’s served. The original cloche is, however, not double thickness and is usually made of silver or glass. I adapted this version and from a warming cloche made a cooling “Glosch”.
3. How did you come across this alternative but renowned technique of cooling food using the special properties of porcelain?
I had to find a material that would hold in water, but that would also allow it to evaporate. The result of my materials research was double thickness porcelain fired at a low temperature and partially glazed. The cavity between the two porcelain “walls” allows it to retain water. Because it is fired at a low temperature the porcelain has open pores allowing the water to evaporate out. The inside of the “Glosch” is glazed reducing moisture penetration and controlling humidity. The reflective glaze increases cooling, similar to the principle used in thermos flasks.