I went down to Grant Park to cheer on a friend who ran the Chicago Marathon last month (way to go, Franklin!), and stopped by the last day of the Wired NextFest since it was right there, in a big ol’ tent. Maybe because the show was in its waning hours, nothing seemed to be working. I busted out my best Marcel Marceau–moves in front of a robot that was supposed to mimic human gestures, but all I got was public humiliation. Plus it was hella hot up in there…color me nonplussed. Then I came across an elegant display of futuristic sculptures, which turned out to be custom serving pieces designed for Grant Achatz’s Alinea restaurant. Did a little research, and discovered they are made by Crucial Detail, a Chicago design studio headed up by Martin Kastner. Kastner’s a Czech who trained as a blacksmith, and he offers these “delivery systems” for sale on his Web site. I’ve never been to Alinea, but I’m guessing that most of its foodie fans are usually celebrating a birthday, popping a big question, or toasting a momentous life event—at any rate, it’s not the sort of resto you’d go to when feeling vaguely peckish. A gift of some of these contraptions would make a great remembrance of the occasion, maybe even paired with the luscious Alinea cookbook that just came out. Shown above (counterclockwise) are: the Antiplate (put a spoon in the middle of it with an amuse bouche, $15), Squid (balance food in the middle of the wires, $35), Bow (hang food off of it, $35), and Sectional (a little pedestal for a bite, $10). After all, if you’re going to the trouble of hollowing out a grape, stuffing it with truffle foam, and balancing it on a frozen bubble of unicorn tears, you don’t want to plop it on Chinet, now do you?

Photos from Crucial Detail