It’s estimated that humans now waste over a third of global food production. That’s a hefty 1.6 billion tonnes each year. So now more than ever, mindful consumption should be sharply focused and truly kicked into gear. For BRIK, they are doing just that and unequivocally doing its ‘bit’. And they are doing it beautifully, as they tell BEAST. By Stevie Cannell
Designed and hand-crafted by Danish designer and goldsmith Kia Utzon-Frank and orchestrated by retail mastermind Raffella Baruzzo, BRIK is an East London-based chocolate company that prides itself on “break[ing] the mould of how chocolate is to be seen, eaten, and experience”. This approach is innovative on all fronts; be it in terms of flavour, visuals, sustainability, or production, BRIK plays with expectations at every turn.
Although their debut to the luxury chocolate industry is relatively new, having officially launched in lockdown in March 2020, there is no doubt that BRIK has hit the ground running. Inspired by an assortment of architectural materials, their award-winning chocolate creations artfully imitate slabs, spheres and domes with deceiving precision. Terrazzo, marble, and concrete are all flawlessly emulated in Kia and Raffella’s visionary treats.
Equally as easy on the eye as irresistible on the palette, ‘creation’ seems a pretty apt term to describe BRIK: “there is something playful about toeing the line between what is edible and inedible”, Utzon-Frank says, “it’s the dichotomy between something that looks unassuming like it might not taste great, and when it does, fuelling that element of surprise.’ ‘The taste and look don’t necessarily match up – it’s disorientating, and people are immediately interested”. Baruzzo adds: “We are always told not to play with our food. Because of this, there is a daring excitement about being very tactile with something edible and revolutionises the way we approach the act of consuming chocolate. When we eat any other luxury chocolate, we approach it with timid reverence – the holistic sensory experience is limited. We only taste the chocolate. The same diminished approach is true when we eat another chocolate bar within three seconds from unwrapping to swallowing. We only taste the sugar, and the indulgence is short-lived”.
For BRIK, patience is key for sensory satisfaction, but also when it comes to sustainability. “In 2021, sustainability isn’t an option so much as it is a given. As a small business, this means that your trade-off is longer lead times”, explains Utzon-Frank, “I think this is a good thing though, it teaches people delayed gratification”. In today’s climate, where almost anything is instantly available with a click of a button, BRIK’s conscious slowing down is a sober reminder that the omission of instant gratification in favour of a sustainable, albeit more leisurely, timeframe only makes the final product all the sweeter. Baruzzo relays the acronym I.A.N.A, which defiantly and proudly declares ‘I Am Not Amazon’. She clarifies: “We can’t guarantee delivery within 24 hours, nor within 48 hours. We are transparent about our ability to deliver within 7 working days, because this is the truth of sustainable business”. BRIK’s devotion to sustainability goes further than this. Not only do they use 100% biodegradable and home-compostable packaging, but they also put their money where their mouth is and plant cocoa trees to offset their minimal carbon emissions.
On the flavour front, all of BRIK’s ingredients are naturally sourced. Utzon-Frank describes how natural dyes and flavourings are the only options: “Raspberry for pink, matcha for the most wonderful green, and charcoal for green or black”. Just in time for London’s summer season, BRIK has turned its hand to gelato; surplus chocolate is repurposed into gelato development and production. Wholly in line with BRIK’s green ethos, it is ingeniously irresistible – it’s a brilliant way of taking waste product and transforming it into something novel, and far from second rate. When asked about their flavour development process, Utzon-Frank stresses that “we take delicious flavour notes and pair them together. I love taste testing, and Raffella has the most refined palette. She just knows when something works”. From here, it becomes clear that BRIK is so much more than a sweet treat – it is a vehicle for other flavour ways and experiences.
When speaking with the creative duo, their appetite for collaboration could not be clearer, and their kitchen, based in The Oval, Bethnal Green, is the portal whereby these creative partnerships blossom. Having lived and worked in East London for the past decade, Utzon-Frank talks of the ways she sees her work flourish here, in the company of other artisans. “East London is such a facilitator for collaboration; it harbours such a rich array of creators. In this time where we have only been allowed a matter of meters from our homes, lockdown has really highlighted how vibrant it is here. East London still held energy, whilst places such as Regent Street were deserted”, Baruzzo comments.
In a post-lockdown world, BRIK’s vision is to continue blurring boundaries and dismantling the distinct disciplines of art, music, jewellery, science, cooking, sculpture, architecture, and more. As Utzon-Frank explains, “all these practices are just different modes of expression”.
To find out more about BRIK and the upcoming range of workshops, head to: brik.site/workshops-and-experience