With his unrestrained inventiveness and an obvious devotion to creativity (think strawberry watermelon cake with rose cream or lemon meringue with basil jelly) it is no surprise to his many supporters and devotees, that owner and founder of Black Star Pastry, Chris Thé, invited a group of emerging local designers to create a collection of bespoke eating implements, serving salvers and café seating for his ever popular patisserie in Sydney’s inner western suburb of Newtown.
Always looking to go against the grain, Thé has steered clear of off the shelf ready-made generic products that most café goers accept as the norm, or even, the only, instead investing in ingenuity and craftsmanship by engaging emerging local designers and manufacturers through a collaboration with the dynamic Sydney-based design studio, &Company.
Providing creative opportunities for emerging designers through exhibitions and developing product ranges, &Company’s, director Anna Lise De Lorenzo, says meeting Thé at a function where the renowned chef was giving a talk on food and design was a natural starting point for the partnership. When talk turned to the inevitable, a new collaboration was born.
“We first met Chris when he came to give a talk about food and design at an exhibition that we held at Gaffa and it was fantastic hearing about his love of that process of being creative in the kitchen and sharing that with people. That began a really beautiful relationship,” said De Lorenzo.
&company’s endeavour to give emerging designers the opportunity to build their design experience within a creative community by working with local craftspeople and manufacturing sat well with Black Star Pastry’s own mission: ‘Good honest slow cooking enlivened with fresh experimentation.’
Both De Lorenzo and Thé shared a commitment to ensure there will be no disconnect between what you eat and the way and the how that you eat it. “It all had to fit with our aesthetic which is very loose but even though things are very different they all need to look as though they’ve come from the one mind,” says Thé.
The highly customised and unusual designs are the work of four designers who were selected for not sticking to the brief. For instance, Glen Baghurst designed a boulder stool weighing more than 50 kilos, as well as a range of platters that are based on cloud forms. Meanwhile, Soumali Chitdamrongre claimed hardwood palettes and transformed them into outdoor stools, while ceramicist, Naomi Taplin, created a range of plates for cakes and pies and developed these into a platter series. A hybrid ‘spork,’ a meshing of a spoon and a fork, is also on its way to the café, thanks to jeweller and inner west local Sonya Scott, who has also designed a series of cake slides and tongs to be used by the café staff.
The pastry chef recently received prototypes back from the designers and said it was quite a nerve-wracking time. “We’re finding sometimes things just differ slightly from the concept and you’re wondering is it actually going to make it in the end?” he pondered.
However, Thé quickly and easily draws parallels to one of his own creative processes: the art of making a wedding cake. “The picture you draw on a piece of paper is often quiet different to the three-dimensional reality. Often it has an element of ‘out-of-proportion-ness’ or almost like the cake is a little bit grotesque in a way. But I suppose that’s what prototyping is for. The second time around you know how to amend,” he reflects.
The BSP&Company collection is expected to launch in November joining the growing food&Company range.