Duration: 5 Weeks · Project Type: Collaborative
Why Direct Trade?
We see the glowing face of the chocolatier, but never the sweating laborer chopping open cacao pods with machetes. Branding for chocolate or coffee often removes consumers away from the source. Workers toil away, but they remain poor and often experience human rights violation.
There were steps taken recently for worker rights with new certification and standards. Fair-trade is not good enough. Workers pay for the certification out of pocket for the premium label, but they hardly earn any increased income to improve country infrastructure.
How can we share this idea with the biggest chocolate consumers of the world — Americans?
Our goal is to return consumers to the source: the bean. LIQD Bean is a concept of an informative store featuring direct-trade chocolate and coffee drinks. We designed the exterior and products, and conducted research to curate relevant artworks with descriptions.
We participated in a talk held by Taza Chocolate, who does business with cacao farmers through direct-trade. Through their website, we took inspiration from their videos and then looked online for photos of coffee production.
THE STORE: Location · Layout · Curatorial statement
The target audience is trendy metropolitan dwellers with high disposable income. They are the consumers who have purchasing power to even out the disparity.
The front part of the store serves as an exhibition space while the back is a café to purchase drinks.
The LIQD Bean mission statement is outlined on the wall near the entrance of the interior.
Products: MOUNTN LAMP · EXHIbition stands · botl · POD · BERRY
These lamps have translucent glass layers, which are reminiscent of the scenic mountainous forests workers toil in. There will be several hanging around the space, providing ambient light.
The stands are diffused, matte plastic with lights which shine on the exhibition objects. These are used to display our bottles, cacao bowl, and coffee berry bowl. Each item in the exhibition have a museum label beside it to describe its significance.
BOTL has a glass body and heatproof sleeve made of cork, a sustainable resource. The sides have illustrations which depict coffee berry pickers and cacao pod workers.
The cacao pod inspired bowl is made of frosted glass with a cork lid. Here, it is filled with cacao beans, the bean once worth its weight in gold which now ends up in a favorite national snack.
Three ceramic bowls that swivel around a reinforced cork stand resemble the coffee berries in clusters on trees. The bowls are filled with roasted coffee beans and green coffee beans, the latter of which are usually unseen by supermarket shoppers.
A Drop of History
For the exhibition running on the walls inside the store, we curated four artworks which tell the story of coffee and chocolate once brought to Europe. The history is dark and cruel and often covered up, but unfortunately it still informs recent times.
Change is what we make of the present.
This is our idea of spreading the word of direct-trade through a pop-up store design, with historical references and consumables.
Direct-trade coffee and chocolate have yet to take over supermarkets, so we all have responsibility to spread the message and think critically about what we buy.