The designer and founder of architectural platform Bold, tells us more about her Cooking With An Architect show
Photography by Benjamin Paris featuring Chun-Li (left) and Muyiwa (right)
Words by Harriet Thorpe
Meet Chun-Li Reid, creator and host of Cooking With An Architect, a YouTube series that invites architects into the kitchen to have a chat over cooking up a dish. ‘Architecture is all about the five senses – see, touch, listen, smell and taste. But how do you incorporate taste into the design of a space? By cooking on the show, architects create a space for taste,’ says Reid.
Reid describes taste as a ‘layer of our experience of architecture’ that is usually forgotten, yet actually our memories are often built around taste. Then she asks me to imagine the taste of a surface by looking at it – a strange exercise (try it, go on), but it proves how taste is integrated into our sensual understanding of the world – full of signifiers that perhaps we don’t tune into enough.
The lens of food, explains Reid, is a tool for communicating about architecture in a more playful, relatable and digestible way – a mission at the core of her media platform, Bold, under which Cooking With An Architect sits. ‘Cooking draws out a very sensitive side to people. When you cook for someone, it’s a way of showing love; it makes people feel safe. My aim with the show is to encourage anybody who watches to really think about how they experience space.’
Photography by Benjamin Paris featuring Chun-Li
Reid grew up in north London tasting her mother’s traditional Caribbean cooking and later became an avid watcher of MasterChef, The Chef Show and The Great British Bake Off. She wanted to study architecture from a young age and became interested in environmental and social sustainability while studying at the University of East London. Architect Francis Kéré is her dream kitchen interviewee, for the way he has invested sustainable design back into his own community.
The second series of Cooking With An Architect takes place in community kitchens in east London – with the first episode kicking off at Idia’s Community Kitchen with architect Armor Gutiérrez Rivas. This series has opened up many questions around sustainable food production, food waste, food poverty and the cost of living: ‘How can we make food more accessible? Can we design food into the urban fabric? How can we learn and teach from the land?’ asks Reid.
The series has initiated useful conversations between architects, chefs and everyone who uses the kitchen. ‘Food and architecture are essential to all of us everyday, but today in London food and housing are so expensive,’ says Reid. ‘Community kitchens are vital: they need to be well designed, but they’re often plugged into existing spaces rather than being tailored to needs. They require versatile support spaces for all types of needs such as therapy and administration. This is why food and architecture must speak together.’