Sense of Beauty

SPA Hotels

Expand the spectrum of senses

Marta Szostek and Matylda Halkowicz are the founders of the multidisciplinary design studio SUPERGIRLS DO DESIGN. They design interiors and sets, including for culinary experiences such as Dr Irena Eris Tasty Stories.
What sort of projects are created at SUPERGIRLS DO DESIGN?

Marta Szostek: We combine matter and senses in multisensory designs of scenography, objects and spaces. We create projects that are unconventional and stimulate the imagination, showing a fresh approach.

Matylda Halkowicz: The two of us work together on a regular basis, but there are quite a lot of satellites circling around, that is, designers with complementary competences. This enables us to carry out various projects, from objects and scenography to designing exhibitions and brand identity as well as interiors.
M.S.:  What we have in common is our collaborative approach. We try to use as many natural, precious materials as possible. Durable when it comes to interiors and natural in stage sets. We also have a history of doing upcycling projects. In designing sets and interiors, we always think about how a person would feel in what we create. This is often our starting point. Human-friendly approach, empathy and natural materials are what connect all our projects.
M.H.: We always work based on context. In a complex design process, we look for adequate aesthetic values responding to the assigned theme..

Where does your work on set designs begin? What do you base their concepts on? What role does localization and prior research play in this?
M.S.: In the case of Tasty Stories, it’s actually the local context. We don’t work closely with the chefs, but we know beforehand what the dishes are going to be, so we tailor our sets to the dishes. We talk to Janusz Myjak, the head chef of the Dr Irena Eris Wzgórza Dylewskie SPA Hotel, about what will be served, and we try to make our set design an extension of that experience to other areas.
M.H.:  We get videos and photos from the team beforehand, introducing all the heroes and heroines of the event. We then begin to look for values that we can use to translate into a Tasty Stories setting. Later comes the stage of research, finding materials, and contexts. Then begins the long phase of prototyping, working on material samples and experimenting with different solutions, which we test at our studio. We have this method for this, we take a meter-long sample of the table at our studio and create a prototype, also taking into account what happens on the ceiling. We test how it works and whether the result is the vibe we are going for.
In design, they are guided by empathy. Starting from the human perspective, they create unique sensory experiences to stimulate taste and imagination.
How important do you think other senses besides the sense of taste are in tasting food?
M.S.: We believe all the senses are equal.
M.H.: I think that in approaching a sensory experience, it is important to stimulate all the senses and open up to them as much as possible – then the experience is more complete. The circumstance in which we sit at the table, what we see – and we also “eat” with our eyes, the smells, the sounds, the company, the invaluable work of the entertainers... the whole team works to make it a unique, expansive and indeed a complete experience.
M.S.:   I think we always enjoy food in some context. Whether it's a simple sandwich, a refined dish or street food, the circumstances and the space in which we eat – a street in Bangkok, our apartment, lunch at an aunt’s house, or a dinner party like Tasty Stories – it’s impossible to separate food from space. And it affects all our senses. We try to complement the experience as much as possible, to please and surprise.

So you design a whole range of experiences.
M.H.:  Colors, textures, materials, touch, and direct contact are all important to us. We always start from a human perspective and select a spectrum of materials and tools to design an experience for them. People are craving more and more unusual experiences, and designing them is a lot of fun for us. We give people experiences that are completely different from their everyday lives. Staging, as opposed to creating interiors that need to be permanent and more universal, offers the opportunity to create a temporary fairy tale. This story can be completely detached from reality, fantastic.
M.S.:  The starting point for our design process is empathy and thinking about how a person would feel in the space. We touch all the materials we use. We choose them so that people would feel calm, safe, and pleasant around them. I, when I visit museums, always want to touch everything. I joke that my hands are an extension of my sight.

This is very close to the musings of Juhani Pallasma, a Finnish architect for whom touch allows personal relationships to emerge between man and object.
M.S.:  That’s right, we definitely reject the hegemony of the eye. We try to expand the spectrum of ideas as much as possible.

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