Kyle and Liz von Hasseln aren’t your typical designers. Initially focused on architecture, the pair stumbled upon an interesting business idea when they wanted to make a special cake for a friend’s birthday: the Sugar Lab.
“It was our friend Chelsea’s birthday, and we didn’t have an oven to bake her a cake, so we decided to try to 3D print a cake for her, instead. It took some trial and error, but eventually (and unfortunately months past her actual birthday) we managed to print a simple cupcake topper that spelled out ‘Chelsea’ in cursive sugar,” said Liz von Hasseln. “Chelsea loved it so much that we started seriously considering how interested other people might be in 3D printed sugar. When we graduated, we decided to start a mini design firm for 3D printing custom sugar.”
These aren’t your normal cake toppers. The Echo Park, California company specializes in unique shapes and designs that they print in stark white sugar. The end product looks more Jim Jennings than Willy Wonka.
“The design process begins from scratch, when we hear from you,” said Liz. “Tell us your idea/theme/vibe. Give us a swatch of lace from your gown/a Polaroid of the wrought iron gate at your venue/a postcard of your hometown skyline.”
The couple has been running the Lab for two years but has really ramped up the business in the past six months. In fact, it’s almost become a viable career. “We are certainly optimistic that designing and 3D printing sugar is a viable career option for us–it’s a great design space, and we love the challenge of negotiating structural, material and aesthetic considerations to produce sculptural form in sugar.”
The Lab is currently working on a huge, four-layer cake with a 3D-printed cake stand and sugar columns. They are collaborating with “some seriously talented cake artists at a well-known bakery in Hollywood” on this and other projects.
While they’re not going to put Hershey’s out of business any time soon, this is a great intersection of design, manufacturing, and sweetness that makes me want to be able to squirt a chocolate bar through my Makerbot one day.