Isabel Brash is a Designer (Architect), Chocolate Maker and the creative mind behind Cocobel Chocolate. The brand of chocolate is described as being Raw, Mystic and Wild being a single estate confection and infused with Trini flavour. Talk about local content!
We asked Isabel what creativity meant to her, and how she chose to express it. She tells us “Creativity is the unending stirring in my gut and the continuous design matter chatter that does not rest. Insomnia. With COCOBEL my creativity is expressed through food. I see COCOBEL as an ambassador for the cultural food traditions of Trinidad and Tobago so what I create is very influenced by my memories and experiences being a Trinidadian. My culture is a major part of the brand because I want everyone to be proud of COCOBEL being something that WE created through OUR collective memory. As far as packaging and branding it is a bit more personal--the way in which we express ourselves within our culture is unique”.
The design process
“I usually sketch in pencil on anything close by…a bill, an envelope. When it comes to creating new flavours, I just combine it in its raw form in a spoon and put it in my mouth - a sprinkle of spice, a leaf of herb, a few drops of chocolate, a bite of fruit… sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I move on from there.”
Asked about any specific rituals associated with getting her work done, Isabel says “I write a lot. I find that when I write what I am thinking I feel less frustrated with all the arguments of how it can work or not and the why's. Arguing with myself on paper helps a lot. Sketches come and go between opinions”. She admits that her style has changed in the sense that she has learned to go more with her gut than worry about what it is supposed to be. For her, it is like jazz improvisation… “I think you learn all the theory and you learn your instrument to your best ability and then you try to forget everything and just trust your gut”.
To young Creatives emerging in her field, Isabel would advise “Be honest; let yourself shine through your work and people will follow you on your journey".
Isabel would most like to be remembered for pioneering the artisanal fine chocolate and local food pride industry in Trinidad.
As an Architect, Isabel is most proud of her building #37 Fitt Street, Woodbrook where Medulla and the Cocobel workshop are housed. She says "Despite all the errors in construction it is my one permanent creation that is constantly functioning. To see people coming in and out and using the space in the gallery and reception as it was intended and all the creative minds that come together in this space…it is my pride. The people and the activities of the space are just as important as the object and I just like seeing it in motion :)".
If Isabel were a crayon the name of her colour would be Visceral.
You can learn more about COCOBEL CHOCOLATE on their website or visit them on Facebook. Feel free to check out Medulla as well, where Josh Lu, recently featured in our RE: Series has his ongoing exhibition Moulded Memories.