It’s easy to overlook this humble soup-delivery tool. But once you start to unpack its complexity, you realize that a perfect spoon is a design tour de force.
To begin with, this object has the hardest job at the table. To get liquid safely from a bowl to the mouth requires a well-made mini vessel with just the right weight, balance, and depth to carry its contents across the chasm from dish to lips.
It’s also the most intimate of cutlery. You have to want the thing in your mouth or else you won’t use it, which means the tool has failed.
No one knows how many variations there are on the design of a spoon. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has study rooms full of historic cutlery and you see the most striking variations among the multitude of important spoons.
Years ago, I noticed this same level of design consideration in the plastic spoon and started collecting. I adore the variety and specialization of these implements.
Chee Pearlman is a New York-based journalist and curator.
Mmuseumm is a modern archeology museum positioned in an elevator shaft in downtown Manhattan. Chee Pearlman’s collection is part of the current Season 3 exhibition.