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21 "Designer Cakes" Are On Display Inside the Shanghai Biennale

Nov 23, 2016 | 12:58 Wed
21Cake, "China's first luxury cake maker" according to Wallpaper magazine, is an online cake delivery company that specializes in impossibly fancy square cakes -- like the kind of cakes that would appear on The Great British Bake Off if it was directed by Jony Ive.

Coinciding with Shanghai's busy art season, last weekend 21Cake launched their "21cake 21designers" exhibition on the 5th floor of The Power Station of Art, where Shanghai Biennale takes place. They've invited 21 guest designers from the art, fashion, and music world to create their own cakes. So, you pay 100rmb to see 21 square-shaped "designer cakes" in one room, displayed within a three-storied contemporary art festival which costs a mere 25rmb. Is it worth going?



Remix, an edible, solid cocktail designed by the Tomeetyou team.

The 21 "designers" are mostly from China and all quite established in their respective creative fields. Shanghai electronic musician B6 received his inspiration for his cake from the TMA-1 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. You could imagine what that looks like. Founder of Chinese fashion brand ZUCZUG covered his cake with glutinous rice, to "generates a special taste collision". There's also a "remix" cake made by Tomeetyou Design, which takes the form of jelly cocktails; Mei Shuzhi, art director of 702design contributed possibly the most controversial idea among them all: a fish roe sushi cake.

Designer Mei Shuzhi intends to reflect "extreme formalism" with his sushi cake.

"Glass Fragment" -- a cake "stabbed" by shattered sugar glass. The idea came from Hitchcock's "Rear Window".

A cake that resembles an egg holder. pretty interesting idea.

The receptionist tells us that all the cakes are thrown out after three hours and replaced with new ones straight from the on-site kitchen, all day long from 11am to 7pm. You can't see that process though which is a bit of a shame. Nor can you eat them -- they're guarded by three security guards who ensure that guests consume the cakes the way they are meant to: as profound objets d'art. "We aren't expecting to make a profit from this exhibition", the receptionist tells us, "our boss just wants to let people know that we are very serious about cakes."

A pandan and coconut mousse cake bares the name "A Sudden Wind".

To justify the steep price, the ticket comes with a cubic ice-cream and a cubic cake -- both are delicious -- for you to enjoy once you walk out of the exhibition room.

If you are lucky enough, you might be able to get a piece of one of the designer cakes. We were told a few of them will be available on 21Cake in limited quantities, at high prices. Like "Bricks of Ancient China" for example, a chocolate mousse cake features a pattern that's "reminiscent of a scene from the Han Dynasty", is priced at 98rmb for a quarter pound serving.


21 Cake, 21Designers - Design Cake Exhibition runs until December 4 at The Power Station of Art, tickets are available on Damai and on site for 100rmb.


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