“The past is not dead. In fact it’s not even the past.”
Meet the Artists
Heather Baker (Designer / Artist)
“My vision was to have the Projet box look like it had come from a hundred-year-old Parisian Market,” says Heather Baker of Studioplush. “ And I wanted the design to reflect the history of chocolate.” For research, Baker went to Paris and immersed herself in the culture, visiting boutiques, flea markets and studying the goods at famed luxury macaron maison Ladurée. “Chocolate is a way of life for the French,” she says. “And it’s part of their everyday lifestyle. Whether it’s a nice glass of wine or the meal you prepare, it’s about a higher level of enjoyment. I wanted Projet to reflect this elevated way of living.”
Baker also drew on her BFA in British Design. “Their packaging is so critical, with the finest quality of materials, and where branding is a priority.” Though she has done design work over the past twenty years for many high-profile clients, including Publix, Pepsi-Cola, and the Country Music Hall of Fame, Baker says this has been her dream project.
“It’s almost like I’ve waited my whole career to work with a client like Sophia, who understood this level of detail, perfection and quality. And I love that Projet Chocolat is not just for the educator or culinary student, but for everyone.”
Angela Cay Hall (Photographer)
A longtime hair and makeup artist, Angela Cay Hall recently launched a new venture called SeedPlantWaterGrow to “Share Life’s Beauty through the Art of Food, Photography, Writing, Crafts and More.” Hall says, “My whole mission is to help people who have beautiful internal sceneries but don’t know how – or lack the support structures – to get that voice out.”
Hall also has a deep history with food, spices and herbs, which made her a natural fit to photograph the elements of Projet Chocolat. “My grandmother was a healer and ran a health food store,” she says. “I started really diving into a lot of the ingredients she sold, and I became fascinated with food, started photographing it, and the whole thing took off. I’ve been on that path ever since.
“For Projet, Sophia and I had fun trying to tell the story in an artful way, photographing the box, the aroma bottles, and chocolate. She let me run with it. I always try to make my photos look like a piece of art, and I like for the product to tell its own story.”
Erin Fraser (Aromatics Developer)
Growing up in rural Michigan, Erin Fraser would explore the woods and forage with her parents for mushrooms, berries and watercress. She says, “I was aware early on that I could remember the smells of places and things really well, that my nose had a good memory.” By the time she was a teenager, she was reading books on medicinal herbs and concocting her own herbal teas, which eventually led to her learning how to make her own high-end natural perfumes, Curioso Perfumes.
For Projet Chocolat, Fraser helped select the notes, source and mix them up. “We picked some of the most common and easily identifiable notes, the ones the average person will notice when they’re eating chocolate,” she says. “Our objective was to make sure, as much as possible, that the notes in the kit were non-synthetic. I think synthetics often smell more like a flavoring than what you’d really find in food. So It doesn’t make sense to try to train your palate with notes that aren’t realistic.”
Fraser hopes that people will take their time and have fun with the kit. “Ultimately, it’s about your taste buds,” she says. “It’s not about passing an exam. It’s about getting to know your taste buds and how you register those notes. And doing it in a way that’s focused on enjoying the chocolate. That’s ultimately what the goal is – promoting the enjoyment of chocolate.”
Sarah Mallory (Seamstress)
Sarah Mallory is the co-owner of Denim & Spirits, a Nashville-based American Heritage style clothing company inspired by the cool, casual styles of musicians from Bob Dylan to Ryan Adams. The company’s motto: “It’s not just a pair of jeans and a shirt, it’s a way of life.”
Kentucky-born, Mallory comes from a long line of quilters and seamstresses. Her grandmother taught her to sew when she was five, and by the time she was in middle school, she was making clothes and dreaming of a career in fashion. After graduating from O’More College of Design, Mallory worked for Dolly Parton for five years. “I probably learned more on that job than I did in five years in school,” Mallory says. “Especially, I learned confidence, and how to do alterations to get a perfect fit and feel, which is essential to the menswear I design.”
And it was that skill that she brought to Projet Chocolat in fashioning the simple, but stylish carrier bag. “It’s such a beautiful box, so we wanted to protect it,” Mallory says. “But because it’s such a sensory product, we also wanted the feel of the bag to be luxurious and welcoming, soft to the hand, like it fits the product. The product is for the nose, the bag is for the hand.”
Bryce McCloud (Box Maker / Print Meister)
As a graphic artist, Bryce McCloud has been helping shape Nashville’s aesthetic for the past twenty years. High-profile clients such as Third Man Records, Olive & Sinclair Chocolate and Pinewood Social have all relied on his Isle of Printing shop for posters and packaging with a smart, playful vibe. The nephew of a printer, McCloud inherited a press from his uncle as a teen, and never looked back. After graduating from Bradley University’s art program, he apprenticed at Hatch Show Print, then started his own letterpress shop in 1998.
Working on the box, McCloud took his cues from his fellow artists, embracing classic design techniques. “This whole project has been about not just putting something together, but putting something beautiful together,” he says. “Even though we’re using a laser cutter to execute the design, I feel like everything that comes out of the shop is, for lack of a better word, artisanal. We’re not a factory. We’re still making everything one at a time, assembling it by hand, in a way that I can only imagine is not that different than how it was done a hundred years ago.”
McCloud sees his contribution as a small part in the larger whole of Projet Chocolat. “It’s really about total immersion. Not just taste, but looking, knowing, touching. I hope that this thing we’re creating will be like a little treasure chest, a way for people to transport themselves into all these different worlds.”