Sydney folk come from all corners of the world. Working with Bakedown Cakery, we created chocolates to tell the stories of us; where we came from and where we settled. Each of the 12 unique flavours represents a different suburb, based on census ancestry information – combining data visualisation and chocolate.
Our aim was to show that no matter where you live, from Concord to Cabramatta or Greenacre to Manly, immigrants have helped define places with their cultural traditions - exemplified by the diverse flavours they have brought to the Australian palate. We wanted to make census data delicious, and celebrate our diversity through a shared love of chocolate!
At Small Multiples, our day-to-day work involves interpreting data through predominantly digital media. The world is filled with visual and auditory information, but we wanted to explore data through other senses such as touch, taste and smell to see how consumers would respond.
By analysing 2016 ABS census data, we selected 12 Sydney suburbs as having the most prevalent saturation of a particular cultural background. We used experimental 3D printing techniques to visualise a section of each suburb on their respective chocolate, literally bringing the streets to your taste buds. Bakedown Cakery then developed delicious flavours to reflect each culture, and we carried out user testing to check recognition.
The packaging is a feat of algorithmic art - photographs of all our ingredients are twisted and transformed with custom code into an other-worldly terrain bursting with the colours and vibrancy of Sydney's multicultural makeup.
This is a project that revels in the joys and flavours of diversity. Rather than dividing us, it's about celebrating how different flavours can co-exist in one delicious box. Populist politicians might try to pit us against each other, but these chocolates celebrate the complexity of a city without a single origin. The project has reached over 2.5 million Australians so far with its message, being featured on the ABC news website, Good Food, Concrete Playground, the Sydney Morning Herald and many more, in addition to its social media and web presence.
Combining code and confectionary, every part of this concept originates from data and algorithms. From the census analysis to reveal the cultural makeup of suburbs, to the generative packaging design and the 3D printed chocolate maps, this is a work of in the new tradition of "casual information visualisation" - data visualisation that avoids complex analytic dashboards in favour of speaking to the imagination in simple and creative metaphors.