Celebrating Tupperware's Artistic Value

"Translations in Tupperware" is an exhibit this week in New York City featuring 25 of the best art creations using the plastic food containers. Tupperware Brands CEO Rick Goings about some of his favorite designs.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

There's a hoity-toity Tupperware party going on in New York City today, a celebration of plastic food containers as the inspiration for art. The exhibit is called Translations in Tupperware, and it shows off winners of a design competition sponsored by the Tupperware Company.

Rick Goings is the CEO of Tupperware and he joins us from his office in Orlando, Florida.

Thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. RICK GOINGS (CEO, Tupperware Brands Incorporated): Good to be here, Scott.

SIMON: And can you tell us what the winning design is?

Mr. GOINGS: Well, the winning design really was a kaleidoscope made wholly out of Tupperware from Delhi, India.

SIMON: Oh, my word! A kaleidoscope in the different colors from which Tupperware comes, right?

Mr. GOINGS: Yes.

SIMON: And so you just rotate it to see the sky in different colors, and that sort of thing?

Mr. GOINGS: It was amazing. Tupperware actually - the lids, which we call seals - in many different colors - work just like a kaleidoscope.

SIMON: Did the designer have to cut up different squares of Tupperware?

Mr. GOINGS: Nope, never had to mishandle one piece of our revered Tupperware.

SIMON: Could the designers or artists use other materials, if so bidden?

Mr. GOINGS: No, they couldn't. The only thing we would allow is, they could use fasteners, bolts or screws.

SIMON: What are some of things you saw that stand out in your mind?

Mr. GOINGS: Well, there was a wonderful chaise lounge, Mexican headdress. One of the most interesting was one of the finalists from France, Kriss Ulve, did this intricate fish model that was four feet tall, out of purely Tupperware Lexan. And by the way, Lexan is the same thing French Mirage fighter planes, the windshields, are made out of. It's bulletproof.

SIMON: I guess I didn't know that Lexan was bulletproof.

Mr. GOINGS: It is. It's important to know at what thickness.

SIMON: Yeah. How many colors does Tupperware come in?

Mr. GOINGS: Oh, the designs of Tupperware are over 200 colors. In the Philippines, for example, gold is the key color because it represents prosperity. But you go to Germany - they want everything in a different shade of blue.

SIMON: Hmm. Can you still burp the top?

Mr. GOINGS: Yeah. Burping, you can still release the air. It's in bad taste today, so they whisper today.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GOINGS: We sent Tupperware to charm school.

SIMON: Do you ever encounter the piece of Tupperware that's so sweeping, dramatic and artful, you just can't bring yourself to bring a cold chicken breast in it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GOINGS: I feel that way a lot when I see some of the great things our designers are doing. By the way, this used to be a company primarily in food storage, but now we're tabletop, kitchen tools and gadgets, cutlery. Some of our products, by the way, are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria and Albert. We're right there where you are in the Smithsonian.

SIMON: Hmm. I don't know what you've heard, but I personally am not in the Smithsonian.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Mr. Goings, it's very nice talking to you.

Mr. GOINGS: Very nice talking to you.

SIMON: Rick Goings is CEO of Tupperware Brands Incorporated, speaking with us from Orlando.

This is NPR News.

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