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Dinner at Otthon Áruház, abandoned shopping mall

The history of Otthon Áruház, formerly known as the Fashion Hall, began before the war and were finally closed in 2002. Márkus Rosenberg and his wife built the house where Antal Ruttkai and Pál moved their business, originally based on interior design by Lajos Kozma. In 1957 József Csapó renovated it to its present state. Otthon Áruház housed furniture and various accessories and was an institutionalized space where everyone was welcome, it functioned as a meeting hub.

Given the peculiarities of the Kádár system, food served a different function than today. More specifically, just a function. It did not express status and rank, it did not symbolize the opportunity or even the arrogance of choice and the importance of food on the plate. The lack of ingredients allowed the gastronomy to prepare limited meals. Housewives' cooking mastery was repeating 7-8 kinds of food. The meals were often prepared using tried and tested recipes and were meant to support safe living and work. It was narrow in its range, but accessible to everyone and tasty.

Black and White images by Adam Horvath

Colour images & video by Liliane

The flowers imagined for this particular event were all sourced from Hungarian suppliers; I specifically made sure we didn’t include anything grown overseas. The types of greenery used in the arrangements was typical to the Kádár era including Climbing Asparagus and Red Carnations. Red Carnations were the symbol of socialism and were widely used in everyday households as well as at higher class parties at the time. The ceramic vessels are mostly the heritage of the same age; they echoed the fond memories of our grandmother's livingrooms. The symbiosis between the arrangements, the vases, the space and the theme of the dinner was achieved by unique varieties of simple flowers designed in a contemporary way.

© 2023  L I L I A N E  S P I E L M A N N

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