Hotel Chocolat’s Creative Partnerships
Find out more about our creative partners.
We are very proud to be BAFTA’s Official Chocolate Partner. BAFTA is a British institution which excels in supporting and rewarding the best of British creativity; their role in nurturing creative talent is inspirational. The pursuit of excellence and showcasing the best of British creativity are values that both Hotel Chocolat and BAFTA share, and it’s why we are honoured to partner them in their celebration of artistic achievement.
From supplying gifts for the goodie bags, to have created our bespoke mini chocolate BAFTA masks, sampled at the awards events, Hotel Chocolat is there throughout the BAFTA celebrations. Did you know that we also make the dessert for the Film and TV Awards dinners? Our Executive Chef creates the spectacular dessert which is always a perfectly orchestrated taste explosion, injected with all the passion and creativity that Hotel Chocolat – and BAFTA – is known for.
As part of our role as Official Chocolate Partner, every year we open a pop-up Hotel Chocolat room at the EE British Academy Film Awards Nominees Party at Kensington Palace. Previous years’ highlights include our very own star Beau Bunny making an appearance and mingling with guests, and our one-metre-tall BAFTA mask made of solid chocolate! Our head chocolatiers finished this masterpiece by coating the mask in 24 carat gold foiling; it weighed over 100kg and took three men to carry it! The mask now takes pride of place at our factory, Hadley Park, in Huntingdon.
The insider anecdotes from the BAFTAs are one of the best perks, a particular favourite of ours being that Samuel L. Jackson took a great liking to our Super Boosters! In previous years we have welcomed Dame Helen Mirren into our chocolate room and she happily posed for a picture with our BAFTA Tiddly Masks and Rabot 1745 hessian bag. She was even spotted wrapping some masks up in a napkin to takeaway – a lady after our own hearts. Dame Helen has since become a member of our Chocolate Tasting Club! Best Supporting Actress Nominee, and red carpet darling, Lupita Nyong’o has also been seen nibbling on our Tiddly Masks at the glittering ceremony.
Chocolate BAFTA Masks
At Hotel Chocolat we believe in championing homegrown British talent, and Andrew is a true master of his craft. Andrew, a graduate of the Royal College of Art Ceramics and Glass MA course, has worked in hand-thrown clay pottery since 2006. Throwing, derived from the Old English word ‘thrawan’ which means to twist or turn, is the forming or shaping of clay on a potter's wheel; think Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in Ghost, although Andrew warns “throwing clay isn’t as sexy as it seems”. Throwing gives Andrew the freedom to create unique and flowing forms which echo the beauty of nature. The textured surfaces in Andrew’s work are inspired by patterns found in the natural world, such as fossils, coral reefs, magnified plant forms, and now cocoa pods.
When we started to think about creating a cocoa drinking cup we knew it had to represent our values of innovation and authenticity. Andrew Wicks, in collaboration with our creative director Timothy Rennie, has incorporated these values into The Pod. The shape of the beaker is inspired by the shape of a sliced-open cocoa pod; the beautiful, fluted design is the perfect representation of our ‘all about cocoa’ mantra. When cocoa pods are cut open with a machete (or cutlass as they are known in Saint Lucia) they make a natural drinking cup. The distinctive textured ridges on the beaker act as a grip, so no handle is required. For us, Andrew’s distinctive design evokes our Rabot Estate Plantation in Saint Lucia every time we take a sip.
Andrew’s work has been featured in many galleries and ceramic exhibitions around the world, from London’s Saatchi gallery, to the Annual International Expositions of Sculpture Objects & Functional Art (SOFA) in New York, Maastricht in The Netherlands and his alma mater, the Royal College of Art. His vessels have also appeared in editorials in ELLE Decoration and Homes & Gardens.
The Pod beaker is used in our Cocoa Bar-Cafes, restaurants.
The Pod - Cocoa Drinking Cup
Jessica May Underwood
The interior of our restaurant, Rabot 1745 in Borough Market, is as distinctive as the cocoa cuisine we serve. It has the personality of a West Indian plantation house recreated in 21st century Britain; the interior ambience unites the raw agriculture of the cacao plantation with the urban elegance of the estate house. We commissioned watercolour and pencil artist, Jessica May Underwood, to create a painting that encapsulates the spirit of the Rabot estate and the brand itself. The result is the breathtaking triptych – the ‘Spirit of Rabot’.
The ‘Spirit of Rabot’ is a large triptych located upstairs in the dining area of Rabot 1745. Each of the three paintings is three metres high and completed in gold leaf, oil paint, watercolour, graphite and ink on a watercolour canvas. Working closely with our creative director Timothy Rennie, and CEO and co-founder Angus Thirlwell, Jessica researched the Rabot estate in great detail, looking at the landscapes, botanicals and geography, as well as the history and mythology.
Jessica May Underwood studied at the renowned Central Saint Martins in London, specialising in Graphic Design and Illustration. Jessica’s work is greatly influenced by traditional image making, botanical drawing and classical literature, as well as her love of romanticism. Her drawings and illustrations are whimsical and romantic in their appearance and tell a story through every stroke. The lyrical and fluid qualities of her work lend themselves perfectly to fashion illustration, an area in which Jessica has excelled. Jessica has worked with designers such as fellow Central Saint Martins’ alum Alexander McQueen, House of Holland and Raquel Allegra. Jessica’s clients included Vogue, Harrods, Condé Nast, Selfridges and Levi’s. For House of Holland, Jessica produced a hand-drawn rose print, which adorned blazers and vests from their Spring Summer 2009 collection.
Jessica’s work has graduated into the music industry where she collaborated with Katy Perry’s stylist to create a LED outfit for her E.T. music video. Jessica now lives and works in California, USA.
Jessica’s designs can also be seen on the take-away cups in our Cocoa Bar-Cafes. Come and see Jessica’s ‘The Spirit of Rabot’ at Rabot 1745, Borough Market.
We are delighted to work with British graphic designer, Si Scott, on the beautiful typography that adorns the menus and walls in our Cocoa Bar-Cafes, and Roast+Conch, Leeds. Our creative director Timothy Rennie was interested in making the art of delivering a message as original as possible, to infuse even the most functional words with a creative spirit. Originally from Leeds, Scott formed his studio in 2006, which creates unique creative concepts and imagery for his ever expanding client list. His designs are in high demand across the globe for projects ranging from publishing, editorial, branding, ad campaigns and interior design. Greatly inspired by his love of music, Scott’s work is reminiscent of the sensual notes of smooth jazz, the complexity of ballads, and the euphoric rush of dance music.
His distinctive imagery is bold and imaginative in style; qualities we believe encapsulate the essence of Hotel Chocolat. Scott’s work on the ‘Plantation to Plate’ wall signature in Roast+Conch, Leeds, is dramatic and attention grabbing. The elegant lines flow theatrically from the text into floral patterns to illustrate the journey of our cocoa beans from the cocoa tree to the plate. His work speaks a thousand words as it conveys the message of our brand and draws the viewer into our world.
The Si Scott Studio expertise ranges from creative consultation, to art direction, lectures and art exhibitions. The studio has received accolades across the globe including a listing in the Best 200 Design Moments Ever by Computer Arts Magazine, and has been appeared twice in Lürzer's Archive list of Best 200 Illustrators in the World.
In addition to his design and illustration work Scott is now training to be a tattoo artist, and you will soon be able to commission him to create a bespoke tattoo.
We are thrilled to share Scott’s designs with our guests and look forward to working with him more as our cocoa cuisine journey continues.
The Tree of Chocolate
Salon du Chocolat, the world's largest chocolate show, came to London for the first time in 2013 and during the event we exhibited our sculpture – the Tree of Chocolate – designed by our Senior Chocolatier Rhona Macfadyen.
The story begins – as of course it should – on our cocoa plantation, the Rabot Estate, in Saint Lucia.
This sculpture signifies our endless discovery of cocoa. We’ve had to understand how cacao is grown, learnt to appreciate the incredible versatility of the bean, and been astounded by the innate complexity of chocolate. Furthermore, we’ve had to establish a unique way of combining authentic cocoa growing with our own contemporary style and appreciation for art, fashion and design.
Our Senior Chocolatier, Rhona Macfadyen, has a Masters degree in Art from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, so we couldn’t think of anyone better to design and build the sculpture. She explains:
“The work of Salvador Dali has long been an influence on our designs. The way he takes the structured form and turns it into liquid, like his melting clocks, is reminiscent of the way we work, and the complicated journey of cocoa from the bean to a beautifully crafted chocolate.” The ‘melting circle’ mould that we use in many of our collections was also inspired by the work by Dali. The numbers on the melting chocolate – 1745 – refer back to the origins of our Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia, which was founded in 1745.
There is a small midge on the tree which signifies the start of cocoa’s journey from the tree to your mouth. A midge pollinates the cocoa flower, which grows into a pod, beginning the slow transformation of cocoa into chocolate…
5 months until harvesting
7 days to ferment and dry the beans
10 days to sail from Saint Lucia
35 minutes to roast
120 hours to conch
5 seconds to melt in your mouth
The wood used for the tree itself was salvaged from the Rabot Estate after a devastating hurricane in 2010, and the text you can see wrapped around the trunk is taken from the very book that inspired Hotel Chocolat’s co-founder, Angus Thirlwell, to move the company towards growing our own cocoa. The chocolate is a blend of the high-cocoa milk, white and dark varieties that we use all the time, simply reconditioned into modelling chocolate. “I make delicious chocolates every day,” says Rhona, “but I’d never worked with it like this before. Doing something different; creating a piece of art with meaning and real aesthetic pleasure, truly made me admire cocoa on a new level”.