Author: Kbaumlier

Kristen Baumlier’s work spans the full spectrum of interdisciplinary media, including performance, interactive installation, video and audio works.
Chocolate That Explores Texture – Nendo Design

Chocolate That Explores Texture – Nendo Design

There are many flavors that  affect a chocolate’s taste including the chocolate’s origin, the percentage of cocoa used, the technique of how it was made, and the flavor inside.  One aspect of chocolate that is rarely explored is a chocolate’s shape.

Nendo, a Japanese chocolate company, recently designed a box of chocolates that explores texture.  Each piece explores a chocolate’s shape and has such qualities as spiky tips, smooth surfaces, empty interiors, or rough surfaces.

Each chocolate is named after Japanese expressions used to describe texture. The chocolates were designed for Maison et Objet 2015, a furniture show in Paris.

Here are the 9 names and descriptions of the chocolates:

1. “tubu-tubu” Chunks of smaller chocolate drops.
2. “sube-sube” Smooth edges and corners.
3. “zara-zara” Granular like a file.
4. “toge-toge” Sharp pointed tips.
5. “goro-goro” Fourteen connected small cubes.
6. “fuwa-fuwa” Soft and airy with many tiny holes.
7. “poki-poki” A cube frame made of chocolate sticks.
8. “suka-suka” A hollow cube with thin walls.
9. “zaku-zaku” Alternately placed thin chocolate rods forming a cube.

In looking at them – it seems that some of the surfaces and shapes would affect the experience – from feeling bubbly shapes melt on your tongue, to having to bite into spikes.

Texture is said to affect how saltiness and sweetness are perceived, so the 9 chocolates most likely would vary slightly in its taste due to the shape and texture in the mouth. According to TIC Gum’s research area, food and beverage product developers spend very little  time examining how texture may impact a finished product, which makes this design project a novel adventure.   (and also tasty!)

Images and Links:







Get Rid of the Fear – Your Creative Elusive Genius

Get Rid of the Fear – Your Creative Elusive Genius

I recently watched a TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, who talks about the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses.  She is the author of Eat, Pray, Love – and shares about how how unrealistic it is that everyone expects someone who is creative and has had success – to basically fail or break down in the next endeavor.

She shares an interesting idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius.

I am currently in the process of moving the Food Font project into a different direction, and am also starting a new project.  I often will have moments of panic – when I think about my “audience”  for Food Font.  What will they think if I move to partner Food Font with a tool instead of finishing building one? What if I do not do any more Food Font events?

With my new project, I think about – what will I do with this new work, and why would I return back to making objects?

This talk helped give me some courage, and I quietly and steadily continue with my work.







Writing with Plants

Writing with Plants

This summer, some small plants started to appear on the side median of the street on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, NC.  At first glance, they look like random tufts of greenery.  However, if you walk by slowly you are able to read words made of plants that line the street medians.






are some of the plant words that were planted in areas that do not have any bushes or greenery.

I tried looking online to see if there was any information about the plant writing- but to date I have not found anything online.

Seed bombing? Public art?  Social intervention? Gardening?  Poetry? If you are in the Chapel Hill area – make sure you walk sideways as you go down Franklin street, to check out the writing with plants.


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Fooling the Nine Billion: Why We Need Good Food, Not More Food – Ricardo Salvador

Fooling the Nine Billion: Why We Need Good Food, Not More Food – Ricardo Salvador

This spring I was able to attend an amazing lecture by Ricardo Salvador called, “Fooling the Nine Billion: Why We Need Good Food, Not More Food.” Salvador is the senior scientist and director of the Food & Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.  This group is working with citizens, scientists, economists, and politicians to transition our current food system into one that grows healthy foods while employing sustainable practices.

His lecture gave an overview of the history of our food system in the U.S., the role of government and citizens in this system, and talked about how our current system was a vision or project that came into fulfillment.  It was one of the best presentations I have seen in quite a while.  Savador was a dynamic speaker, and had not just slides but animations that supported what he was presenting. 

He began by talking about how we experience the system by eating out (and imagining what we want to have) and  usually getting what we want in 5-20 minutes, whether it is season or not,  or local or not.  We also go to the super market and browse over 50,000 items and ususally use the criteria of choosing things that we can try to assemble into a meal in 5-20 minutes.  Behind  this is a system with great power which uses materials and energy.

“The Future of Food is a question that can be approached using direction and prediction, but it is up to people to decide what the future of the food system will be,” he stated in his introduction.  He went on in his talk to talk about the history of our food system, the overproduction of food and how this is used and how our system is supporting diabetes and obesity.  “Diabetes – has a public cost of 92 billion,  Obesity $147 billion, Cardiovascular Disease – $444 billion and is the  #1 killer.  We pay for the production and cost of this disease

He then had images and a recent example of the price of purchasing traditional versus healthy food at McDonald’s which showed how our current food system makes it so it is not possible for McDonald’s to offer the healthier choices at a equal price.  The healthy foods also do not add up to many calories.

The last part of his lecture called for a shift in our food system, and  he mentioned a current project called “An Apple a Day” – which is a education and advocating for how our current food system is wasting government money, wasting lives, and wasting medical costs.    Promoting the food problem as a system that is wasting government money, wasting lives, and wasting medical costs is something that can go across government parties.

I recently got the link of Recardo’s recorded lecture which can be seen online.  It is good quality audio and video – and I strongly recommend that you watch it to get a new perspective on our food system and the future of food (and you can eat an apple while you watch.)


Image Sources and Links:

Ricardo Salvado – Watch the Lecture Fooling the Nine Billion  – Video

An Apple A Day – Video

 Union of Concerned Scientists 

Ricardo Salvador 






Caring for the Commons: A Print Multiple Project

I am proud that I was invited to be part of a project that explored printmaking in the digital age.  For the project each artist had to create an edition of 25 prints.  As part of the project, the artists created an online image repository, where digital images could be shared.  I ended up using several images that others had put into the shared folder, as well as a selfie image that my niece had taken of herself.

My piece was entitled “Happiness.” For this work I combined a symbol for happiness, a landscape image, and an image of my niece, which were taken from the project Dropbox. Part of this image incudes a scan of Arches paper, providing a texture and context for traditional print processes. I wanted to create a ghostlike image with the word Happiness – parts of the letters H, A, and S are used as image elements.

About the project:

“It is easy to share as a Printmaker. Print processes allow for the creation of multiples and, of course, dissemination is fundamental to its culture. However, as artists our work is often personal, it’s content derived from a variety of sources (sketches, photographs, art history), and these raw materials are rarely made available to others. With our Portfolio artists make their source material available to one another through a shared cloud-based Dropbox folder.

What combination of images artists use to create a new print for the portfolio is up to that individual artist. Unlike the anonymity of a Google image search the digital commons brings with it the responsibility to respect these shared resources. In doing so our portfolio responds to the theme of conference as an intersection between traditional and emerging technologies and using this virtual space to create meaningful and critical discourse.”


Organizers: Margaret Denk-Leigh and Troy Richards

Participants: Kristen Baumlier-Faber, Karen D. Beckwith, Charles Beneke, Christi Birchfield, Jerry Birchfield, Denise Bookwalter, Clarke Curtis, Margaret Denk-Leigh, Alexis Granwell, Zach Lindenberger, Michael Loderstedt, Katie Loesel, Michael Marks, Liz Maugans, Michael Merry, Troy Richards, Tricia Treacy & Ashley Pigford, Rebekah Wilhelm