Project: Mae's Ridge Photo shoot
Client: Lotus Events/Mae's Ridge
Capacity: Freelance Design
Role: Cake Design
Mae’s Ridge is an event space that planned to open its doors to potential clients. They set up a styled photoshoot to showcase their space’s beauty, functionality, and unique design. I was in charge of designing the cake to match within a deadline of 4 days.
Design a cake that cohesively mets the style guidelines of the event planner, matched the aesthetic to promote the new event space, and presented the bakery (and its capability to produce high-quality cakes) positively.
Successfully designed cake that helped promote and support the launch of a new venue as well as increased bakery market reach.
I researched the event space to get an understanding on who they were and who they were marketing towards. Were they aiming for rustic, Texan brides? Modern Brides? Quirky Brides? Glitzy over-the-top Brides? I needed to understand who their main client would be.
- Minimalism with a pop of retro geometric patterns
- “crisp and sophisticated” from their bio
- White and Black (giant black barn doors and white ship lap covering the walls inside)
- Floor to ceiling windows and skylights let the outside in with natural light
I pulled together a quick mood board to collect these elements for reference.
I then consulted with the event planner and the information she at provided. I learned from the mood board/style guide that the photo shoot was to be moody, romantic and modern. Rich, deep hues with some neutrals and greenery were to make up the color palette. Black was to be a main color choice, which is highly unusual in weddings, to match the black in the event space.
Possible Challenge: Wedding cakes tend to be soft and feminine, as the main cake is normally termed the “Bride’s Cake” in the industry. It was important that the cake wasn’t overly feminine as the style of the wedding is more a neutral and modern.
I sketched out 20+ ideas. I shared my ideas with my colleagues to get their opinions on what was working and what was disjointed. After collaborating with my colleagues I was able to narrow my vision.
I then created some low fidelity sketches in SketchbookPro of the top 10 ideas to gauge the impact and feasibility of the designs.
I drew the final design in more detail. I chose my favorite design based on uniqueness and feasibility considering the deadline.
- Pattern on the bottom tier referenced the geometric wall from the venue
- Tone on tone coloring is subtle and modern.
- Unique & Bold: Black cake - but it still had a traditional feel because of the standard cake tier sizing
I was unsure about the final floral spray, as I knew the planner wanted to keep the cake more minimalistic with less of a focus on floral. I knew that this was a final touch that could be altered towards the end so I moved on after assessing my other more important priorities. Since I was given full creative liberty, I was able to move forward with the design without having to consult back with the client.
When creating a cake, you only get one shot. If something goes wrong, you have to learn to adapt and fix any mistakes or problems. My colleague in the business once said, “Being a Cake Designer is 90% knowing how to fix mistakes and 10% knowing how to actually work with cake.”, I have always agreed with that sentiment and have learned to not panic in those moments. Problem solving is key. That being said, during this process the cake design was not working. The black on black pattern was not coming out cleanly and was looking messy.
Knowing the medium I was using was going to dry, I quickly opted for covering the two black tiers completely and creating a thin horizontal texture. Once the time sensitive issue was resolved, I referenced my sketches and the mood board in order to find an alternative design solution.
I liked the thin horizontal lines I had created as it still gave an interesting texture and a softness to the otherwise cold and hard design. I decided to play off these lines and one of my previous sketches and created thin vertical strips staggering up the cake. Instead of adding floral to the cake, as I did not want it to be too feminine, I placed strips in the general area where floral would typically go.
This cake design was a success because not only was it seamlessly cohesive with the event planners styled photoshoot, but it also stood out to present the bakery in its best light. I wanted to make sure the cake stood out enough to be unique and eye catching, but not too overdone and unrealistic for a potential real couple. This cake did just that.
Although this was not the original design for this cake, I am even more happy with the result. I learned that sometimes less is more when it comes to design. From afar, the cake looks like a simple black cake with some interesting elements, but the thin subtle horizontal texture adds an interesting texture to the cake when studied up close. I like the fact that the eye picks up these different textures on different levels, making the design interesting to explore. I also am glad this was the design because the thin black vertical lines mimicked the thin black candles and the spindle-like legs on the furniture. This cake was unique yet understated, minimalistic yet interesting, dark yet fresh.