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Photos by Bridget Kenny
Photos by Bridget Kenny
Artist Hyobin Chung creates complex desserts for Sugarcube in Long Island City.

When you walk into Sugarcube, a dessert and coffee shop that opened in Long Island City last year, you’ll notice that many of the desserts have intricate geometric designs.

Founded by architect Peter Zaharatos at 10-16 50th Ave., the dessert spot relies heavily on 3-D printers to design its creations. Zaharatos, an architect who teaches classes at New York City College, opened Sugarcube to “explore form and chocolate.”

One of the artists he employees to help bring his designs to life is Hyobin Chung, a Long Island City resident who has a background in toy design.

Chung, who graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in fine arts and toy design, said she was “always the weird one in a group thinking outside the box and constantly wanting to create and change.”

Her background in toy design helped inform her process as an art developer for Sugarcube, where she helps create the offerings such as chocolate bars and bonbons. Even the plates that the desserts are served on are created using a 3-D printer.

Chung was trained by Zaharatos to sketch designs on computer software and assists the architect in the silicon mold making process, where they utilize the 3-D printer.

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Chung sketches her designs using computer software and creates the silicon mold using a 3-D printer. Once the design is printed, she pours the chocolate into the mold. Once the confection is cast, Chung applies the decorations.

“For the interactive plates design, my process begins with me thinking, ‘What else can I do to make dessert time more fun and unique?'” she said. “I have a crazy sugar tooth that brought me to numerous other dessert places where I get new ideas being a customer myself.”

Photo courtesy of Hyobin Chung

Photo courtesy of Hyobin Chung

The plates, which can take a couple of days to a month to design and print, are “the toy of the culinary world.”

One of the plates, called “the fountain,” include small trench-like openings that collect the fillings of certain desserts. The bakery also hosts “Sugar Cube Proposition,” an interactive event where attendees can use 3-D printers to create their own dessert.

Photo courtesy of Hyobin Chung

Photo courtesy of Hyobin Chung

One night, attendees witnessed and participated in the Ekmek syrup entrance. They poured syrup in a 3-D-printed “syrup entrance.” The syrup then fell into a Kadaifi-based (Greek shredded-wheat pastry) dessert.

“My knowledge of three-dimensional forms and ability to build narrative story as a toy designer really allowed me to bring the confectionery ingredients into a new dimension as interactive playful art objects.”

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Chung’s favorite project to work on was also the most high-profile. She created the black historical figures chocolate featured in a “Saturday Night Live” Valentine’s Day sketch earlier this year.

In the sketch, several men provide their girlfriends or wives with a Russell Stover “Black History Heart Shaped Box,” which features chocolates that are in the shape of historical figures such as Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, Angela Davis and Barack Obama.

“It was an all-nighter job, but it sure was worth the effort when I saw the result on the live show,” she said.

As part of her role, Chung wears many hats and is also responsible for banner design, display design, photography, creating gelato flavors and event planning. But she also finds time to create other art.

Photo courtesy of Hyobin Chung

Photo courtesy of Hyobin Chung

She also works on a series of paintings with a character she created called “Kori Monster.” The monster represents a person’s inner self, which “just wants to be recognized and cared for.”

“Kori is a creature that controls that part of you no one can understand,” she said. “Even yourself. But you can never be separated from your Kori because they are part who you are. People are afraid to convey their inner self, especially now when the focus is increasingly on an unattainable standard of perfection.”

Photo by Hyobin Chung

Photo by Hyobin Chung

To learn more about Chung and her artwork, visit her website.

 

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