Think in Reverse

Opaque Dining November 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — clairelester @ 7:57 pm

During our recent lecture on light where we spent the majority of the class in the dark I couldn’t help but be reminded of a new trend of fine dining that I had recently heard about- “Opaque Dining”, or dining in the dark.  This concept originated in Europe but is quickly gaining popularity in places like Las Angeles and New York City.  The idea is that dining in complete darkness lets you become much more aware of your other senses- more specifically taste, smell, and touch.  This experience manipulates scientific principles of sense perception to shape a new way of experiencing food for the diners.  The participants claim to discover new flavors, textures, and smells from everyday foods such as plain yogurt or potatoes.  A cool fact I discovered while researching Opaque Dining was that all of the waiters hired for these types of restaurants are either completely blind or extremely visually impaired.  These individuals also serve as guides for the diners into the pitch black dining room.  Once the people are seated and are served their first course out of five they are told where each type of food is on the plate indicated by a time on the clock (exp. Fish at 3 O’clock).  Certain foods have become dark dining favorites such as any finger food or soups that can be sipped from a mug with a handle.  I think this experience sounds really cool and would love to try it one day.  Being able to notice the changes in sense perception that occurred in the dim room during lecture such as the increased peripheral vision and greater sensitivity to noise was really neat to me and I would love to experience this type of sense manipulation in a restaurant setting.  We should have done this while we were in New York!!




3 Responses to “Opaque Dining”

  1. annesleyb Says:

    While this is a really cool concept, I think I would absolutely hate it! I thought that the experience we had in lecture was a great way for us to realize the heightening of our other senses, but we were eventually able to make out our surroundings through the ambient lighting. It seems as though this never happens in “opaque dining” however, and I think I would hate knowing that my eyes are open but not being able to see even an outline of something! Props to you if you do ever try this!

  2. D Says:

    The manipulation of light in the spaces we experience and create is obviously very important–something we’ve learned from the beginning of our time at UVA… Your blog on opaque dining, and our experience in lecture, are really EXTREME examples that showcase how light, or the lack thereof, affects how we feel and act in a space. A more realistic and applicable way to examine the effects of extreme lighting is in our studio projects. While we might not want to have spaces that are completely blacked out or spaces that are drowning in direct sunlight, there is usually a contrast seen from room to room depending on the program. For example, our studio is designing a children’s art museum on the High Line. After the mid-review last Friday, it was an overall tactic that some of our darker spaces, such as the theater, might end up in one of the lower floors of the building, or even underground in a basement condition. These deep, dark spaces are more conducive to a theater, where curators could manipulate the lighting conditions necessary for each exhibit or performance. It is interesting to notice that most movies or plays are held in darker spaces, where the majority of lights appear as spotlights showcasing and emphasizing particular actors or scenes at particular moments. Having a dark, quiet space allows our focus on the stage or screen to be heightened, as well.

  3. mstackman Says:

    Claire- This is really interesting and absolutely weird. I find it interesting on an exploratory level and feel like I would want to try it once. However, I hate when restaurants simply dim the lights, so don’t think that I would enjoy the ambience. I do think it is interesting to question what we think is normal, especially the extremes. Professor Sherman mentioned that we don’t always want maximum light and a lot of the time we actually just want to control the light. Sometimes in studio I feel like we do get caught up in how much natural light we can get into a space, so I feel like scenarios like this remind us of how much we can manipulate an experience.

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