Crixeo: Dinara Kasko Interview
Dinara Kasko Designs Eye-Popping Pastry Art with 3D Printed Molds
In 2011 Dinara Kasko graduated from Kharkov Architecture University and began what would become a three-year stint as a designer and visualizer working remotely from home. By day, she was either sitting at her computer creating ethereal models or working as a photographer part-time; by night, she was baking cakes in her apartment’s modest kitchen. There she experimented with traditional French recipes, from mousses and sponge cakes to jellies and fruits — and, of course, all kinds of chocolate. It was her hobby, an excuse to work with her hands, and a way to be creative away from her desk. She even considered enrolling in a professional culinary school to study patisserie full-time, but upon discovering that she was expecting her first child, Kasko ultimately decided against it. For her, family and home life were more important than attending such an intensive program at that time. Yet her passion for baking persisted.
Kasko stopped working as an architect during her pregnancy, rejoicing at the fact that she could now spend even more time experimenting with cakes in her kitchen. She later befriended champion chefs from France, Spain and Russia to study their recipes and eventually create her own. In the process, Kasko successfully resurrected her past life as a designer and architect through the art of patisserie.
As it turns out, 3D printing has been used for some time in the field of baking and pastry arts for specialty items and competitions. However, Kasko approached the process from a completely different angle. Instead of using this technology to print actual food, why not just print a 3D model of a digitally rendered design to create a silicone mold for continual use? Through various software programs and collaborations, Kasko set out to achieve just that. And the results? Absolutely breathtaking.
By merging her love of geometric forms with delicate compositions, Kasko has unexpectedly created a new world of possibility for the age-old art of baking — all from her home kitchen in Kharkov, Ukraine. And after a whirlwind year of being featured in the Spanish publication So Good #18 (the number-one haute pâtisserie magazine in the world) and going viral through Instagram, Kasko has big plans for the future of her growing business. Here’s what the artist had to say.
When did you decide to experiment with 3D printed molds, and what was it like making that very first cake?
I made my first mold two years ago out of silicone and plastic. Some friends helped me make it, and once it was finished, I wanted to make a cake very quickly. So I put in some cream, some strawberry, some bread — I just wanted to freeze something! After freezing, I realized that my idea had worked and I was very happy! Then I realized I could do anything I wanted, because I had so many ideas and, now, the time to experiment. During this first year, we had to order the molds from another company, but we finally bought our own 3D printer about a year ago, and now it’s much easier. We can print any molds anytime, and it’s much more convenient.
You work closely with your husband and have even said this business is “our business” and you “made it together.” What role does he play, and how does that inform your work?
We met around 2009, when we were both working as photographers. Today he makes all of our videos and takes photographs of each cake. He also works with me on some molds, and he has a lot of ideas. Usually we discuss everything before we do something, but he doesn’t know how to make any cakes. He only knows what tastes good or bad. So I work on the recipes, and then I ask him, “Do you like this or not?” In this way, we work on everything together, and he helps me a lot. He doesn’t want to be the face of the business or get interviewed by journalists, but we are together even in name. I have my name — Dinara — and his surname — Kasko. It is both of us.
How has parenthood affected how you approach your art and business? What advice do you have, if any, for other parents working from home and trying to follow their passion while raising a young child?
Advice? I think I need some advice! (Laughs.) It is really very difficult because I need to be a mother, I need to work, and I need to create something special because people are waiting for new molds, new pictures. People are asking every day — every minute — for something. I have a lot of interviews and meetings, and it seems everyone wants to work with me or collaborate on something. And before I became popular, I had a really quiet life. I wanted to have a very big family, so I spent my time at home with my daughter and sometimes went on vacation. But now I have a really crazy schedule. I know it’s not the craziest in the world — there are so many people who have much more difficult lives and jobs and they travel much more or have very big businesses; but for me, even my life right now is more than enough.
I want to be a good mother and spend a lot of time with my daughter. Usually, during the day I am a mother. We don’t have a nanny, so if I have time to work, it’s usually because my parents or my husband’s parents help us. And she’s only three years old, so sometimes she can watch cartoons or play while I work, but it’s really difficult to do something when you have a small child and no one to help you. So I think the most important thing is to feel comfortable. You need to organize your schedule to have time for family and for work. Personally, I prefer to be with my family, but usually I spend more time with my cakes. But I try to find time on the weekends to relax and rest my mind.
You’re now offering Master Classes around the world to teach others how to experiment with your recipes, and you’re also putting your 3D printed molds into mass production so anyone can make your cakes from home. What might you tell someone who’s afraid to make one of your cakes because they think they don’t have the right kitchen, equipment or skills?
I think, if you like to do something, you should just do it. Of course, when I started baking a few years ago, I had a lot of trouble. Even now, sometimes I create ugly cakes. (Laughs.) And I only share the best results. So you just need to try, and practice as much as you can. As for the Master Classes, I travel a lot for these because I love to be an inspiration for people, so that they can believe more in themselves — that they can do anything they want. They can become popular and famous, and they can make a good product; but they need to love their job to create something special. Of course, during these classes, I’m not teaching how to make the molds or use a 3D printer. I bring the molds with me and teach my students what to put inside. We’re just working on recipes, taste and textures. We eat these cakes, so you want them to taste very good inside.
What does it mean to you as a Ukrainian artist to be gaining worldwide recognition in patisserie and design?
For me, it’s a big honor. A lot of people know that I’m from Ukraine, and so it’s good for Ukraine. I think I might be the most popular pastry chef in Ukraine right now, and I’m traveling all over the world. So when people invite me somewhere, or write an article about me, they often mention that I’m from Ukraine — and of course, it’s very good for my country. Still, I like to travel and I don’t want to say, for example, if you’re born in one country you need to stay in that country all your life. I like to say that I like the whole world and would like to live everywhere. It’s very interesting for me to travel, meet new people and say every time that I am from Ukraine.
You can purchase Kasko’s 3D printed molds through her online shop. At the time of this writing, she is offering 10 cake molds (including the now-famous cherry cake), which range in price from $43 to $80. Each mold includes one of Kasko’s recipes and can be shipped anywhere in the world. “We’re focused on quality,” she says. “But it’s still one big experiment. Even one or two years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be making molds, or finding a factory, or anything like this…but it’s all very exciting.”