For Casa Bosques Chocolates founder Rafael Prieto, chocolate is more than a simple sweet treat. It’s a personal endeavour that blends his affinity for not only the confection itself, but also travel, art and culture. Since launching the brand in Mexico City in 2012, Prieto and his team at Savvy Studio (his branding and architecture design practice with offices in Mexico City and NYC) have been partnering with all manner of creatives – from chefs and artists to poets and literary and design publications – to craft seasonally changing small-batch chocolates that “represent a moment or a place” that reflect his own wanderlust. Each collection comes from a different country and uses a different bean, which is harvested early, before being refined to create chocolates with enriched flavour notes.
A recently revealed permanent installation in the boutique chocolatier’s showroom (located within Savvy Studio’s Lafayette Street office) reflects this romantic notion in a tangible formation. The work of Italian sculptor and architect Umberto Bellardi Ricci, Zoccolo V is a series of five sculptural plinths that serve as, according to Prieto, “altars for, to and of the chocolates they exhibit.”
To build the individual totems, Bellardi Ricci employed raw buildings materials – clay bricks, cinder block, readymade concrete deck blocks, pigmented landscape pavers and slabs of Douglas fir and oak – that are all readily available at the hardware store and were chosen for their abstract correlation to the cocoa bean itself. Much like how the profile of raw beans is enhanced after harvesting, when other taste elements like herbs and spices are introduced, the construction components become greater than their individual parts when brought together.
Secured using stainless steel cable ties and industrial rubber bands, the totems (which range in height from 53 to 120 centimetres) are stacked in compositions that are appear both precarious and permanent – and are indeed intended as a “ceremonial meditation on percepts of impermanence.”
Arranged in a square, the plinths can be wandered around and through, creating, as Prieto wanted, a unique experience and atmosphere for sampling the wares of Casa Bosques.
Humble construction materials become sculptural plinths that elevate the hand-crafted methods of small-batch chocolatier Casa Bosques in New York City.