DINARA KASKO: PÂTISSIER 2.0
DITA commissioned trail-blazing architect-turned-pâtissier Dinara Kasko to create a one-of-a-kind confection that celebrates our new feather temple tips — as seen on the Lacquer, Interweaver, Cerebal and Artcal.
The exquisite results can be seen throughout this feature; Rebecca May Johnson spoke to the online phenomenon about her architectural background and scientific approach to making exquisite sweets.
Geometric planes of matte grey resemble concrete sculptures; lacquered red cherries catch the light like fine glass; frosted white spheres are clouds fixed in time and space. Each of these forms appears so flawless they might be a digital simulation, but cut through the surface, and chocolate sponge, streusel with nuts, chocolate mousse, yuzu citrus and passion fruit jelly come into view.
The objects that one might expect to gaze at like miniature, imperishable sculptures, are transformed into cakes with layers of texture and flavour that leave a trail of delicious crumbs. These confections that seem to hover between states are Dinara Kasko’s dreams of what a cake could be, made real. The young Ukrainian architect-turned-baker’s channels her and architectural training into baking otherworldly objects that intrigue the mind and delight the palate, and which have won her instant fame on Instagram.
30 year old Dinara Kasko trained as an architect at the Kharkov University Architecture School in Ukraine and after graduation worked as an architect, interiors designer and 3D visualizer. She didn’t make the connection between her love of baking and her architectural training at first: “I started cooking in my own kitchen…regular meals for myself and my family. However, I realized that I like making pastry much better – I never got tired of baking cakes. It was always interesting to me.”
So following her instincts, Kasko signed up for baking classes to develop her skills. “Once I started attending classes for baking, I realized that there were a lot of things I was not familiar with. I was so eager to learn something new that I kept studying and attending classes.” Through her 20s, Kasko went on to train among expert pâtissiers in Paris and house pastry lab in Barcelona, perfecting her chocolate work and developing rigorous approach to traditional pastry, before designing her first silicon mold for her ‘Asti’ cake in 2015.
Rather than traditional pastry work, founded on a sense of what is already possible – like visionary architects – Kasko decided to dream first – then work out how to engineer her vision in reality with the help of 3D modelling software. Digital technologies enabled the advancement of the physical cakes. “First, I come up with some ideas then I think how I can get them realized; I imagine what my cake will look like at the very end. After that, I create a 3D model on my computer, print it on a 3D printer, and then I cast a silicone mold. At the same time, I work on a recipe and make a lot of experiments. It’s quite a rare thing to get the perfect mold and the perfect cake with the first attempt.”
The lofty inspirations cited by Kasko are clearly visible in her patisserie. Voronoi diagrams’, or tessellations developed by Ukrainian mathematician Georgy Voronoi, can be seen in her geometric forms and patterned designs. Another key influence, ‘Biomimicry’, or modelling based on natural processes, are manifest in Kasko’s bubble cakes, cherries and sugar work.DITA INTERWEAVER IN BLACK/YELLOW GOLD
The nostalgia and kitsch that surrounds so much of the revival of baking in popular culture is absent from Kasko’s aesthetic repertoire. “Modern modelling programs and different software influence my work a lot as I can create something great from scratch. Even without an inspiration, using different modelling programs, I can model something great.” The studio lighting, hypnotic music and the reveal of process with images if on-screen grids are as much a part of Kasko’s brand as the cakes themselves.
My architectural background has influenced my taste and style. I know what I want, and I create what I like. Besides, it has taught me the right proportions, how to design and create beautiful objects of the right proportion.
“A big plus here is that I can work with different software programs and create 3D models. I use different 3D programs, and I have my own 3D printer. I can make a model of my cake with the help of it, see how it looks like, and change it in some way (its size, colour etc.)”
Kasko cites parametric design – a form of algorithm-thinking used in architecture that allows parameters to be changed gradually to evolve a structure in its entirety – as an inspiration. “I like objects of parametric design”, Kasko continues, “and I like looking at buildings of such design, but I still don’t know how I can make it in the form of cake. I want to try.”
However, while 3D-printing, digital milling machines and 3ds modelling software dominate the narrative around Kasko, they sit alongside more traditional mixers, ovens, jugs and wooden spoons in her kitchen. While the silicone molds that define Kasko’s radical forms are produced by 3D printing machines, that which fills them – jellies, jams, meringue, crunchy nuts, soft sponges and glazes – are the classic products of a pâtissier training.
A high level of training and skill is required to execute these cakes, even with the assistance of silicone molds. “You need to have a very good recipe inside, with very good textures, and flavors otherwise people won’t buy it a second time.” After all, if they’re not delicious, Kasko’s experiment with form is pointless – the peak of her achievement is the sublime synthesis of tradition and innovation.
Over the past two years, Kasko’s groundbreaking work and deft social media skills have made her an online celebrity, with 610K followers on Instagram. The video of her falling red cherries cake video has over 9 million views. For one used to working alone at the computer or in the kitchen, keeping up with the expectations of her audience became a challenge.
“When I became famous unexpectedly, it became very difficult morally and physically to answer all the messages and emails, answer interview questions and so on. The next challenge is to keep people surprised all the time.”
I always have to create something interesting and unusual. So it’s challenging, but I really like doing it as I like creating something new all the time.
Filming, photographing and generally documenting her processes and ideas rapidly became a significant aspect of Kasko’s baking process. After all, one cake eaten by one person is not going to change the world – unless it reaches the kinds of audiences enabled by social media.
Now, Kasko is responding to the growing global demand for her interdisciplinary insights into pastry, by building a ‘studio’ in her native Ukraine – like an artist or a creative agency to act as the hub for her continued creative development – as well as delivering classes worldwide. “I have opened my own studio in Kharkov, Ukraine, where I am going to conduct masterclasses, work on new interesting projects, and invite artists for collaboration.”
She is working with a factory to develop a product line of molds, too so that fans can attempt the elaborate constructions at home. Her business continues to involve the blend of digital and physical realities. Some things don’t translate – mass production of her elaborate cakes cannot be scaled-up. Instead, she’d settle for a more traditional option – a shop. “I would like to open a pastry shop where people could try my creations.” However, continuing in the mode that established her as a global leader in her field, she wants to teach people online to use her factory-made molds: “I would like to open an online school and sell my molds worldwide.”
Text: Rebecca May Johnson
Photos: Dinara Kasko & DITA
VIEW MORE AT DITAworld