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This two-part project came about after I began to informally ask people about their favorite chocolate. This led to research about chocolate and chocolate making, which led to my discovery of the Bean-to-Bar process of chocolate production. Bean-to-Bar refers to when a chocolate manufacturer starts with the cacao beans rather than simply buying production-ready chocolate from a wholesaler or other provider. At the time of this project, this method was used by less than one hundred chocolate manufacturers worldwide. I worked with Bean-to-Bar chocolate makers from ten different factories around the world and asked them each the same set of questions:
- How did you get into your profession?
- What is it about your job that you enjoy the most?
- Why do you choose to do your craft the way you do? (bean-to-bar process)
- Why do you do this job versus something else? What do you think you are offering to society?
I compiled the interviews into a book, along with background information and a glossary of terms on chocolate-making and Bean-to-Bar process specifics. Although it's not the same as reading the book in real life, you can view a PDF of the book here.
The second part of this project was an exhibition design, which displayed the information I gathered from interviewing the chocolate makers and also included an interactive experience. I wanted to capture the excitement I had observed when asking my friends about their favorite chocolate, so I designed a "live-action ethnographic study." I set up a computer station with a jar of hand-wrapped chocolates, each with a question/prompt inside the wrapper. Users were to draw a question from the jar and answer it on camera, recording a video onto the computer. The prompts varied from "what do you love about chocolate?" to "if you could design your own chocolate, what would it be like?" and more. Previously recorded responses were able to be viewed by other users. Over 200 videos were recorded over the course of the study. See some of the responses in the video here: http://youtu.be/BQ7j_MXwC_A
Special thanks to the interview participants from the following chocolate factories: Ah Cacao Real Chocolate, Chocolates Fénix, Grenada Chocolate Company, Malmö Chokladfabrik, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Company, Pacari Chocolate, Red Star Chocolate, SOMA Chocolatemaker, TCHO, and Theo Chocolate