Herbal medicine is something I’ve never explored in great detail, but a basic knowledge of the concept has always fascinated me. Growing up, I rarely visited the doctor, often relying on old-fashioned remedies or the ever-present “tough it out” mentality. And now that I’m older, I’ve found that little has changed – I still feel disenchanted with pills, drugs and medication – and often wish it were easier and more commonplace to adapt natural alternatives for some of our ailments. (I also realize that my daily addiction to salt and vinegar chips isn’t necessarily holistic, but hey, there’s always room for improvement.)
So after spotting Dutch designer Nienke van de Pol’s latest project “Kitchen Lab,” I jumped up and down with delight, thrilled to find that someone was developing an herbalist-inspired system for daily living that was both easy to implement and oh-so-beautiful…
“With Kitchen Lab, I want people to learn that plants and herbs at our doorsteps have preventive and curative medical properties,” Nienke writes. “By exploring Kitchen Lab you will find how easy it is to make your own self care remedies for everyday ailments. The ingredients needed can be found in your kitchen and garden. Today’s circumstances force us to take the initiative when it comes to our health.”
Consisting of 5 sets with differing preparation methods, the Kitchen Lab is color-coded for foolproof ingredient mixing, each set referencing a Dutch recipe book entitled “Zelf is het beste kruid” (which loosely translates into “Itself is the Best Spice”) that Nienke hopes to make available in an English translation. The book is filled to the brim with oils, tinctures, syrups and ointments created from – quite literally – our own backyards.
The set is pricey (around 4500 euros, which includes the cabinet itself), but is available in separate parts, intended to be collected over time. I can only imagine how fun it would be for a young married couple to register for a buildable set, rather than matching china and flatware.
“During my research, I discovered that food could [provide] a better health. Many people lost the knowledge and they aren’t aware of it,” Nienke writes. “I hope we get back to the basics and start using what nature offers us.”
She goes on to share a few common infusions Kitchen Lab can produce, like a hay fever remedy created by combining stinging nettle and German chamomile (who knew?).
I find it so interesting that a recurring theme in all of the projects that have drawn my eye lately has been “simpler, natural, slower.” It’s almost as if my brain is tuning out the rest, forcing me to focus deeper on the meaning while avoiding the fluff. And although I don’t need a Kitchen Lab to hone in on life’s simplicities, I’m happy to support another woman’s quest to return to her roots.
As Nienke wrote in her interview, “[This] is my dream: for people to start thinking in a different way.”
My dream is the same.
Image Credit: Nienke van de Pol
p.s. I recently watched Ellen Jorgensen’s DIY biotech TED talk (fascinating!), and can’t help but draw a few parallels with Nienke’s work. Definitely worth a watch!
p.p.s. Just for fun: Rugs inspired by petri dishes.