You know how one minute you’ll see a cake or cookie design…and then overnight, you see it just about everywhere? In the last few months it’s been all about naked cakes or cakes in the style of Katherine Sabbath (the colourful drippy ones with the details like meringues or bright chocolate bark on top). Suddenly we’re all making cakes that look exactly like one another (if I see another chevron… or ruffle tier…) In part this is just because trends are trends for a reason – someone sees it and likes it so they Pin it, then someone else pins it, then someone else does until suddenly we’re all making the exact same thing because those are the pictures clients bring us. I don’t think this is terrible – after all, sometimes it’s fun to try your hand at making the latest and greatest design. On the other hand, I’d love to see us the industry as a whole innovate a bit more.
So where do trends come from, and where can you draw inspiration from? Some trends come straight out of the brains of their creators and they are truly new and innovative. There are the usual sources like Instagram and Pinterest – but those tend to be recycled ideas rather than fresh ones. Most of the time, new cake trends or fresh ideas come from other mediums. The best way to get inspired to create is to get off your computer and get out the door – and take a camera with you! Go visit museums, art galleries, high end fashion stores and furniture stores. Pop into high end restaurants and read their menus. GET OUT there and find inspiration, it’s all out there waiting for you.
Here are a couple of places you can find inspiration for your next work of edible art:
- Typography: I think this is going to be the next big thing. Handwriting, calligraphy, letter art – all of these are big right now in industries other than ours but I think they translate well into cake or cookies.
- Other mediums of art: be that painting or sculpture or 3D printing or urban graffiti
- Fashion: runway looks are usually beautiful, innovative and just that too crazy to be worn on the street, which makes them just about perfect for interpreting into cake
- Colours: the Pantone Colour of the Year is a great jumping off point for cakes. Colour can invoke a feeling and can be the basis for a design. We use this all the time, where brides come to us with a colour scheme and ask us to design around the colour.
- Fabrics or textiles: grab a catalog and check our what’s hot right now in furniture fabrics, wallpaper, lampshades, towels and sheets.
- Building materials: amazing colours or textures found in floor or wall tiles, patterns in brickwork, shades of colour in paint
- Blogs: there are LOADS of blogs out there, about all kinds of things from fashion to food to parenting. What kinds of things are they posting about?
- Animals: Butterflies and birds alone are great for inspiration on colour, texture and patterns. The rest of the animal kingdom has plenty of beautiful things to look at too.
- Gardens: What’s happening in the world of gardens? What kinds of plants are cropping up at the Chelsea Flower Show? Wander into a garden centre -plenty of inspiration is growing right there.
- Other Cultures: I love the colours and patterns of India – the rich tapestries, deep reds and crimsons, henna patterns. Same too with Moroccan themes. Look outside of the culture you are a part of.
- Deconstruction and Reconstruction: What if you take something classic and re-imagined it? What if Ariel and Eric don’t end up together? Or what if you took two seemingly different things and put them together them? What if Ariel ended up marrying…Elsa? Sometimes inspiration is about looking for opportunities reinvention more than creation.
Tip of the day on finding inspiration: Next time you look at something and think, “That pattern would totally work for a cake!” snap a pic of it and store it. Or if it’s in a magazine, rip that page out (or take a pic of that page if that magazine isn’t yours). Then keep a folder of cake inspiration in your phone and one on your desk. Then when you’re stuck for ideas on what to do with your dummy cakes, have a flick through that folder and remind yourself of what you’ve seen. If you’re anything like me inspiration disappears the very minute you are staring at that blank canvas and the customer is coming. I’m full of good ideas until I need one and then POOF it’s like I can hardly remember my own name let alone a cool cake idea. Having a folder of images to hand really helps – I start flicking through those and the idea juices start to flow.
Where do YOU find inspiration?