Salt and pepper sets are arguably among the most mundane and ubiquitous of gifts. But this particular set, the Taste of Talking, sums up a lot of what can be wonderful about products that are idea-driven -- inspired by thought and creativity.
The part with the holes? Those parts are mouthpieces and earpieces from old telephones. They are NOS (new old stock), not used. There are stockpiles of such product left from the days when we all used such phones. They're repurposed here to pour seasonings at the table.
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There are a series of progressive values reflected in the Taste of Talking. It's green: It uses recycled (and non-biodegradable) parts that might well otherwise truly end up in a landfill. And in using these mundane, disused materials, a wholly unexpected result is achieved, which, I think, changes your perspective on the materials themselves, causing you to look differently at some of the castoffs of our industrial culture. Beauty in a telephone mouthpiece, or an auto sidelight lens? Yet, viewed through this lens, these things are indeed beautiful.
And, these shakers are -- in a word that a lot of my design community colleagues use -- democratic. They marry thoughtful and even groundbreaking design with simplicity and affordability. My favorite corner of the design world is democratic modern design: great and elegant principles applied to create affordable objects. My family and I live in an Eichler house here in Marin. Joe Eichler built subdivisions in the Bay Area in the 1950s and 1960s, and was truly a Utopian. He hired some of the finest modern architects of the times, and they created stunning prototypes, and he put up hundreds of small houses, with groundbreaking architecture, that were affordable for families of very modest means, buying their first home. (John Pound, “Taste of talking,” Salon, 4 December 2009)
If they were used stock but were really well cleaned, would it still be possible to get AIDS from them? Is that the problem? 'Cause I think you'd probably be okay.
I think the problem is that unlike most recycled goods, where the story behind the materials gets sort of scrubbed away in the process, this doesn't really work with spit. You'd be using your shaker, and lifetimes of human interaction / distress / would assault your food, with the dash of salt. Interesting that. Same thing would probably happen if we knew car parts were owned by dead-enders -- the sort that all too visibly are drifting into insanity right now; or bike parts, from the kinds of kids we progressives are probably going to *sigh* off to war. This could be compensated if we knew who designed them, maybe -- clean, neat, super smart but never exposed, is what we want to welcome into our souls.