A mechanical rhinoceros made from 150kg of pure Callebaut Belgian chocolate. It sounds like something from a hungry child’s imagination, but it has become a reality thanks to collaboration between two innovative TAFE NSW teachers. (Pictured above: Jon Pryor (left) with Dean Gibson (right) and the Bone Shaker)
Fusing the previously unrelated disciplines of industrial design and chocolate-making, pastry teacher and acclaimed chocolate sculptor Dean Gibson, and industrial designer Jon Pryer, have created Bone Shaker.
The sculpture is 12 months in the making was constructed and unveiled at the 2017 Smooth Festival of Chocolate in The Rocks, Australia’s biggest two-day celebration of sweet indulgences last weekend.
Bone Shaker was prototyped and built using industrial design methodologies that have never been applied to artistic chocolate sculptures before.
The concept blossomed after Mr Gibson took a 3D computer assisted drawing (CAD) course Mr Pryer was teaching at TAFE NSW in Newcastle with the hope of learning how to design and manufacture his own silicone chocolate moulds.
“I was affected, I got pretty motivated by the course. I started to investigate some mechanical models for the CAD project and thought wow, nobody has done this in chocolate before,” Mr Gibson said.
“I didn’t know Jon had an artistic background so it was really organic how this idea took off.
“It goes to show what sort of innovation can be achieved when people with skills in particular fields choose to collaborate with each other.”
The industrial design thinking and manufacturing process has been a huge learning curve for Mr Gibson, who said the process has involved completely new methods and technologies.
The initial design and components were modelled in CAD and a prototype was built.
From there Mr Gibson poured and tempered eight-kilogram individual chocolate slabs from which each part was cut and manufactured using a CNC (computer numerical control) plasma cutter.
“Collaboration is very new to me, because normally I have full control with the chocolate sculpture. So it’s been a very interesting learning curve. Jon is bringing his design skills and I’m bringing my chocolate skills,” Mr Gibson said.
“Chocolate as a building material is really unforgiving, so it’s really risky. What Jon’s brought to the process is just how perfect the chocolate parts fit together.”
As it is made entirely from chocolate, the mechanics all operate by hand.
Mr Pryer, who is a TAFE NSW industrial design teacher and owner of Neo Industrial Design, said the project was only possible through collaboration.
“Neither of us would have done this on our own,” Mr Pryer said.
“It’s that crossover, it’s familiar in my industry, but it hasn’t been used in Dean’s. When people from two different industries are working together you get that cross-pollination, this is where innovation happens.”
In the classroom, Bone Shaker has inspired Mr Pryer to program a new design project for students studying the Diploma of Industrial Design at TAFE NSW in Newcastle.
“Our students are currently working on a chocolate bar project, introduced this year, which includes the design and manufacture of a vacuum form mould using commercial food-grade plastic,” Mr Pryer said.
“The project started with Dean taking them through a chocolate making course at Hamilton campus so they could better understand the product.”
The project has also provided more than a dozen TAFE NSW patisserie apprentices with valuable experience working with Mr Gibson in the commercial bakery and patisserie kitchens at the Hamilton campus.
Bone Shaker is just the beginning for the duo. They have ambitions to collaborate more and apply this thinking in the way they teach students.
“TAFE NSW is the leading training organisation so is in the best position to provide students with really holistic education that exposes them to a range of different disciplines through cross-faculty collaborative projects like this,” Mr Gibson said.
“Take a chocolate bar for example. You can design the shape of the chocolate bar and manufacture the mould in industrial design, make the chocolate bar in the baking section, brand it and design the packaging in graphic design, then market the final product. That end-to-end learning is exactly what industry is after.”