A Story of Spanish Food Invention, Spanish Cultural Action, Franz Mayer Museum

TAPAS – Spanish Design for Food. Spanish culture has dreamt up ingenious inventions and solutions throughout history. This exhibition, organized and produced by Acción Cultural Española (AC/E), shows how design finds solutions to challenges posed over the years by the world of cuisine, through two hundred objects divided into three sections—Kitchen, Table and Food.

Tapas, Spanish design for food, at the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico, the exhibition invites visitors to discover how design finds solutions to the problems that the world of gastronomy has been posing. And, particularly, how Spanish culture has contributed inventions and ingenious solutions throughout its history.

The exhibition, organized by Acción Cultural Española (AC / E), aims to show through more than 200 design objects divided into four areas such as design, tradition, gastronomy, science, avant-garde, art and innovation they have linked to improve from the design the scope of the feeding.

The exhibition invites the visitor who travels to discover how design finds solutions to the problems that the world of gastronomy has been posing. And particularly, how Spanish culture has contributed inventions and ingenious solutions throughout its history.

This association has not only paid off from the functional point of view, the art world has also been inspired by food and has given rise to interesting pieces that transit between the artistic installation and the anthropological discourse of a country.

The selection of pieces goes from the smallest object like a salt shaker, through the crockery, furniture and interior decoration of restaurants, to the architecture, with unique examples of Spanish wineries. Also, try to highlight the enormous innovative capacity of great names in Spanish cuisine whose techniques have revolutionized world cuisine.

Spanish Design for Food: The Kitchen
Design for cooking.

The exhibition sets out to show how design and food have always been interrelated and how the discipline of design has sought solutions to the problems posed by the world of cuisine. In particular, it takes a look at how Spanish culture has come up with ingenious inventions and solutions in this respect throughout its history.


Lemon squeezer
Lékué and Luki Huber are on a quest to reinvent, and improve the basic daily kitchen processes of manipulating, cooking and conserving food based on the application of platinum silicone. The lemon squeezer is the first product in the collection and it pays homage to the basic act of literally squeezing a lemon to get the juice out.

Encanal. Cutting Board
Polyethylene kitchen cutting board. The folds make it easier to direct the chopped food into the pan.

In 1919 the first olla exprés patent was awarded to José Alix Martínez entitled, “A pan for all kinds of stews that shall be called olla expres”.

Pressure cooker
Pressure cooker made from 18/10 stainless steel of the highest quality and heat resistant bakelite. The ergonomic design applied to this pressure cooker makes it decidedly easy to use. A sophisticated mechanism makes it possible to open or close the lid with just a light turn of the wrist of one hand, a huge advance over traditional pressure cookers with their long handles and bayonet locks which, as well as inconveniently requiring two hands to close them, make them awkward to use and store in the kitchen.

The designers Dieter Rams and Gabriel Lluelles devised this citrus squeezer in 1970 for the Braun company. It is elegant, stylish and minimalist and is still one of the most efficient on the market. The German company entrusted its design to a Spanish designer, Spain being an expert country when it comes to oranges.

El Roner R is a Spanish invention which is the result of a collaboration between ICC, Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca, Girona) and Narcís Caner (Fonda Caner, Girona). It makes it possible to have a bainmarie with a constant and identical temperature throughout the entire recipient. It enables the control of low-temperature cooking, from 40º F to 212º F. It is adaptable for use with any kind of recipient with a maximum capacity of five gallons.

Because of its characteristics, the Roner R is particularly well suited for cooking food such as meat, fish, poultry vegetables, terrines, pates, jellies and preserves, that has previously been vacuum packed. It is also ideal for pasteurizing food cooked with traditional methods and for reheating pre-cooked, vacuum-packed meals.

Migas – Pájaros. Bread board and feeder perch
As you slice a loaf of bread, the crumbs fall through the holes in the board into a funnel and then into a tube that deposits them outside the house in a feeder perch for wild birds.

Strung-up containers
One of the pieces from the Food on the Table collection whose shapes reproduce those of animal organs such as a pig’s foot or intestines, a cow’s heart, a sheep’s brain or a bull’s testicles. The shape and function of each object derive from their original, natural form, without further manipulation.

Through this process of immortalizing the animals’ insides, Moerel confronts us with the brutality and animal instincts which exist in all of us. At the same time, she shows us the beauty inherent in the rawness of nature, which we continue to be disconnected from, and which we can only hope to rediscover.

Funnel Friends
This funnel is a cross between a funnel and a container. It can perfectly well be used for transferring liquids, cereals and grain. The flowing shape of each funnel is cleverly designed so that the complete set fits together perfectly, saving space.

Project D10. Gourmet kitchen
The D10 project’s appearance and efficiency make it a “gourmet” kitchen. Aesthetically it consists of a clean and simple space where the cooker disappears from sight. All you see is a vertical, aromatic herb garden that fills the air with the fresh scents of the countryside and nature. The plants are fixed to the panel by hidden magnets.

While its main function is to hold the plants used for cooking it can also become more dynamic because the plants can be placed on anything made of metal, either inside or outside the house.

Faces. Kitchen utensils
Faces is a project by Ferran Adrià for a new collection of kitchenware and tableware. It shows the creative talent of a select team of designers, including Estudio Arola with their collection of kitchen utensils featuring a new set of knives and tongs whose design optimizes their usefulness in the kitchen, and a set of bowls for the preparation and serving of food.

Kit Sferificación
Basic spherification is ideal for the production of ravioli and other concoctions with an extremely subtle membrane, a delight to the palate. It also makes it possible to obtain spherical caviar. It needs to be produced quickly because once the sphere is submerged in the bath of calcium, it jellies quickly to become a compact ball.

The Fakircook is a grill developed by Jordi Herrera of the Manairó restaurant in Barcelona. It is a structure made of stainless steel with rows of steel prongs forming a bed where meat and fish are cooked evenly and quickly, being cooked from the inside out in a way that avoids the loss of juices and nutrients.

Oxymoron Maker
A made-to-measure machine for heating and sealing brioches filled with ice-cream and with various toppings.

The brioche melts in the mouth with surprising contrasts of temperature and texture; quite an experience. Produced for Rocambolesc, the Roca brothers’ (Celler de Can Roca) ice creameries.

Cha-Chá. Ham stand
A portajamones or jamonero is a form of clamp fixed to a wooden stand, specifically designed to hold a leg of jamón serrano (Spanish cured ham) whilst it is sliced. The device originated in Spain.

Stainless steel, foldable ham stand that can amply accommodate an entire leg of cured ham. It incorporates a porcelain tray in the base that collects any fat that may be released when carving and which can later be used for serving the carved slices of cured ham.

Otto. Bottle rack
An irregularly-shaped bottle rack made of birch wood. It is the result of research into the modularity of irregular geometry, the need to create an infinitely modular shape and the question of how many bottles of wine can be stored in the home.

With computer-generated geometry the wine rack can be used in various positions, balancing the weight of the wine with that of the rack itself to produce some unexpected movements.

The result of collaboration between Ferran Adrià and the Barcelona-based Swiss industrial designer Luki Huber. In this item, which resembles a can of caviar, spherical melon caviar was served in elBulli as an ironic little joke.

This printer is a new device for avant-garde cooks. It is a 3D printer capable of printing food. A toy with an appeal for all, homes, restaurants and all sectors of the food industry because it can even print organically-shaped edible plates.

A piece made from hornbeam wood for pressing and shaping sandwiches while they are still in the pan. One side has a regular pattern for even pressing and the other is marked in relief to imprint the triangular division of the sandwich.

Roca on Wheels
Roca on Wheels aims to rescue the dessert carts from the disuse to which they have been consigned by the contemporary kitchen. It is an interpretation of the Roca brothers’ sweet cuisine, a wacky cart, straight from the fantastic world of the imagination.

Minipimer MR1. Hand blender
The Minipimer hand blender is more than 50 years old. This practically indispensable cooking utensil was invented by Gabriel Lluelles for the Spanish company Pimer which later merged with Braun. It was the first hand-held blender designed and made in Spain. Its elegant and compact design were totally new. It weighed just two pounds and replaced previous models which weighed more than six and a half pounds. Millions of them were sold.

Spanish Design for Food: The Table
Design for eating and drinking


A container made of glass, with a long slender neck and a broad belly, with one spout for drinking a stream of liquid, and another, larger, one for filling and admitting air, which at the same time serves as a handle. The porrón is traditionally used to share wine amongst the company in a hygienic way, without the vessel coming into contact with the mouth.

A materialization of two concepts that are deeply rooted in our eating culture. It is an innovative combination of two objects, in principle antagonistic, to meet the same need. One of them belongs in the formal, glamorous setting: the goblet. The other has come down from popular tradition: el porrón.

Wine jug
A small wineskin. Traditionally made of goatskin or leather, made impermeable internally by pitch, it has a spout with a screw cap made from bone, and serves exquisitely delicious wine. It is sewn round the edges except for the neck, where it can be filled and from where the vine emerges.

H2O. Wine jug
The h2o bota is a reinvention of the traditional wineskin, adapted to today’s lifestyle and the enjoyment of sport and the countryside. The exterior is made of goatskin, treated with natural dyes after having undergone a plushing process.

Botijo (Jug)
A voluminous vessel made of porous clay, on the top of which there is a handle and two openings: a wide one for filling and one in the form of a spout for drinking. The principle is simple: the water inside filters through the porous clay and evaporates on contact with the hot, dry exterior of the Mediterranean summer, thus lowering the temperature. The reason for the cooling is that as the exuded water evaporates, in order to do so it takes up some of the thermal energy stored within the jug.

La Siesta
A white terracotta vessel that combines the look of a 1 1/2-liter mineral-water bottle with the advantages of a traditional “botijo”. A different way to drink.

Ilvino & Laigua
The design of the bottles Ilvino & Laigua not only changes the traditional appearance, but combines both liquids in a single image, because their flat backs make it possible to assemble them into what seems to be a single object. They work because it is comfortable to grasp them and pour the water or wine.

Anti-drip oil cruet
Rafael Marquina, born in 1921 and regarded as one of the precursors of industrial design, became world famous through his anti-drip olive oil dispensers, which he created in 1961. The olive oil and vinegar cruets consist of a spout from which the liquid emerges and a conical transparent glass vessel, which collects drips of liquid and allows them to enter the flask.

Multisensorial crockery.Interactive tableware that stimulates the senses through light, the vibration of sound and by an electric current. This joint project has been developed in a setting of the alteration of perception and the enjoyment of food and drink, through the subtle stimulation of the adjacent senses at the same time.

White opal glass. A reversible plate: one way round it has a small hollow with a shape and texture reminiscent of a nest, while the other way round there is a crown with a central hump. A piece arising from the development of new thermoforming production processes, in this case inverse thermoforming with mixed molds.

Paisatge Rocós
Black opal glass piece developed for El Celler de Can Roca using movable refractory rocks as a positive mold. Used in the opera El Somni to portray the dark side of the moon, as well as for service in the restaurant.

Jomon. Jo Sticks
The Jomon Collection is based on a set of interchangeable bowls and trays, to eat freely in many different contexts, such as stand-up catering, at the table or from a take away. Outcome of a fusion of the coexistence of the most varied dishes of international cuisine with the most universal and versatile ways of eating.

Creative cutlery
A family of three utensils (Pala de humo [smoke stick], Pingüe de caldos [abundance of soups] and Sorbo de sorbetes [Sorbet sipper]) which have been designed specifically for the creative food which is emerging these days in restaurants all over the world.

Marquina cutlery
The leitmotiv of this cutlery is to avoid staining the table-cloth, the same idea that inspired Marquina to create his famous olive oil cruet. The unique handles of the knives, forks and spoons raise the part that would touch the table. The fish knife incorporates an ingenious prong for opening shellfish.

Malla frutero
Malla is a fruit bowl that probes the possibilities of recycling for design, whose skeletal structure consists of steel rods.

The product is completed by a net (of the sort typically used to pack oranges and lemons) which serves as the suspending component, having been stretched between the hooks that form part of the structure.

Corkscrew ‘Doble palanca’
Double-lever corkscrew with a polished chrome finish. Practical and effective. Performs its duties in seconds with the minimum of effort. Designed in 1932.

Ricard 1964. Ice tongs
As if an extension of the human body, they work like the thumb and index finger as they pick up a cube. The Ricard tongs are a testimony to an era and already form part of modern cultural imagery.

White porcelain mug with the printed image of a dog, a rabbit, a pig, a tiger or a monkey on the underside. It seems like a normal white mug until you use it.

La Cool Vie Boheme
A folding table for small spaces. It has room for up to four diners in a very small space, thanks to the ingenious system of hanging plates and cups. Its trestle structure gives enough stability for the plates not to tip over when the food is served.

RS#2 Dining Table
RS#2 is a table-soccer table, a spectacular reinterpretation of a classic element of Spanish culture. If you install a sheet of thick, strong glass on the top, as chef José Andrés has done for his restaurant Jaleo, it becomes a very singular dining table.

Spanish Design for Food: The Food
Designed Food


Bon Aprofit (enjoy your meal) is a project by the industrial designer Clara Balmaña. It consists of a project to teach children to eat healthily and in a participative way, in which they themselves turn fruits and vegetables into cups and eating instruments.

Olive stuffed with anchovy
According to the architect Oscar Tusquets, “This is the best Spanish invention of all time”. The olive stuffed with anchovy is a typical Spanish product. A true design that requires a complex process: harvest the olive, cure it, stone it, insert a piece of anchovy and close it up again with the reserved flesh.

A textile-mill owner from Alcoy, founder of the Serpis company, invented a stoning machine that simplified the work and paved the way for large-scale industrialization.

Chocolate with churros
Spain was the first country to import cocoa from the Americas to make chocolate, and from here it spread to the rest of Europe. It became popular in the 17th century and it was drunk hot and sweet. It was only with the coming of industrialization in the early 19th century that it was produced in solid form.

To accompany the chocolate it is usual to provide slices of sweet bread, biscuit or churros. The churro is a product which is highly typical of Spain, although it exists in several other countries. It is a deep-fried doughy confection which is extruded from a star-shaped nozzle, giving it a characteristic striated shape which improves frying.

The word tapa (cover) comes from the act of covering a glass of wine with some piece of food to accompany it. The origin of this custom is uncertain; explanations range from royal decrees to avoid drunkenness, health advice or simply to keep insects or dust out of the glass.

Whatever the case, the fact is that for over a century it has been the traditional Spanish way of having a snack or eating a light meal. A tapa is any small portion of food, hot or cold, cooked or raw, which is served with a drink. But to “tapear” has become a way of socializing, an alternative to formal eating which is unique to Spain, but which has spread with great success all over the world.

The paellera, or simply paella (from the Latin patella, cooking vessel) is a special skillet for cooking the dish known as paella, which consists of rice simmered with a variety of ingredients.

It originated in the Albufera district of Valencia, but it has become a typically Spanish dish known all over the world. Their diameter is usually very large in proportion to their depth in order to optimize cooking, and they have a handle at either side to facilitate lifting.

Chupa Chups
This popular Spanish candy was invented in 1958 by the businessman Enric Bernat so that children could suck it without getting sticky.

The logo is the work of Salvador Dalí, and about twelve million of them are sold all over the world every day. An example forms part of the permanent collection of the MoMA in New York. Since 2006 the brand has belonged to the Italian group Perfetti Van Melle.

Why do all chocolate bars have to be the same? Chocodosis is a tablet of chocolate with a unique shape that invites you to play, alone or in company, dosing out the ideal portion for each occasion.

Give me five
The people at Compeixalaigua took part in a workshop organized by Surtido with Chocolat Factory. From it there emerged a bonbon in the shape of a Nespresso capsule or one of those thimbles in different flavors. You treat yourself, just like a kid, to suck your fingers and stain your clothes as you please.

Lamp Pampada
This collection of lamps was shown in 2012 at the Dishculptur exhibition in the Espai EatArt gallery in Banyoles (Girona). It consists of a stainless steel structure which supports a suitably-protected loaf of bread. Every one is unique and made by hand.

Made in an industrial bread oven, the Panpaati project investigates the creation of tables and chairs out of bread dough, adhering to a metal structure. An edible, ephemeral construction made in 2008.

Reyes Mora designed this bread, which served as an edible container for an egg in the workshop “El pan nuestro de cada día” (Our Daily Bread). It was organized by Héctor Serrano at the Cardenal Herrera university in Valencia in 2009.

El Bulli plasticine models
How to faithfully reproduce the contents of a plate? That was the question. While an industrial design can be reproduced on the basis of molds, a dish forming part of a meal has to be made over and over again by hand. At El Bulli, to ensure that the compositions on the plate were always the same, the plate’s contents were modeled in plasticine in different shapes and colors.

The name of the dish was noted on a ticket and in this way models were made that the cook could use to reproduce them by copying the size of the portions and their position on the plate. The photo shows a dish called semillas with its model in plasticine.

Olive atomic snack
Three-dimensional olive tapas, in the shape of atomic models. Cover of the book 1:1 Martí Guixé, published by 010.

Acción Cultural Española, AC/E
Acción Cultural Española (AC / E) is a state company created to spread Spanish culture, inside and outside the Spanish national territory. The objectives of AC / E are to promote and disseminate the diverse cultural realities of Spain, to articulate projects of Spanish cultural institutions and to promote the “ Spain Brand ” abroad.

AC/E is an agency that orchestrates public support for the promotion of culture, both in Spain and overseas. Its aims include promoting Spain’s rich and plural artistic legacy and fostering the internationalisation of its most contemporary creative and culture sector. From historical heritage to emerging creation, AC/E strives to give prominence to culture as an essential component of a country’s reality and image, projecting it both within and outside Spain.

Franz Mayer Museum
The Franz Mayer Museum, located in Mexico City, is one of Mexico’s most recognized museums on decorative arts. It was founded with the private collection of the businessman of the same name, of German origin. It houses the main collection of decorative arts in Mexico and presents temporary exhibitions of design and photography.

The collection allows us to appreciate pieces from different backgrounds, materials and styles from the 16th to the 19th centuries, mainly from Mexico, Europe and the East. The collection consists of pieces of silverware, ceramics, furniture, textiles, sculptures and paintings.

The building currently occupied by the museum is a place full of history. For four centuries it functioned as a hospital institution, standing out as the first hospital in America of the Order of San Juan de Dios.

The cloister, which due to its beauty is one of the attractions of the museum, serves as a framework for temporary exhibitions and through it you can access three rooms set from the viceroyalty: a dining room, a cabinet and a chapel.

In the high cloister is the Library open to the public and where there are also exhibits of the bibliographic collection. It protects more than 14,000 volumes, among which old and rare books, historical documents and 800 editions of El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha stand out.

The museum offers guided tours, courses, conferences, concerts, shows, children’s workshops, as well as special activities for its members.