Ming To-Go

Woodcut

2020


The Chinese take-out box is a ubiquitous icon of the Chinese American restaurant industry. Ironically, the original template design was patented by Chicago inventor Frederick Weeks in 1894, and its efficient, convenient, and attractive design has become a mainstay for Chinese restaurants across the country. These boxes, however, are often overlooked and discarded. In creating this print, I set out to transform the takeout box into an object that diners would value and perhaps keep.

Inspired by the ornate designs and deep blues of porcelain vessels from the Ming Dynasty, this reimagining of the takeout box turns an everyday, oftentimes disposed of container into an elevated and thought-provoking object. Imagery derived from Ming porcelain is reinterpreted to evoke Chinese cuisine: the leaves of bok choi sprout from the lid; fragrant steam flows around the container. The Chinese symbol 囍 ("double happiness") is printed on the side panels, bestowing upon the diner good luck and joy.

When the box is opened up, an abstraction of noodles greets the hungry diner. When laid out flat, a takeout box becomes a makeshift plate, a lesser known function of the container. Hidden on the inner panels reads a message of goodwill in Chinese to curious and passsionate eaters: 吃 饱 吃 好 ("eat well").