Food artists are creating new styles of cakes that are chaotic and borderline grotesque. Battling a culture of perfectionism, people are rejecting dominant forms of beauty and rewriting aesthetic standards. It’s why food is also becoming an outlet for more candid expressions of identity.
While maximalist cakes aren’t a newfangled creation, messy and distorted ones are emerging from bakeries worldwide. Wonderfully strange and haphazardly artistic, these sculptures of baked goods resemble wilting flowers, slime, graffiti, and even cigarettes. Unlike pristine and Instagrammable food, ugly cakes are being championed by young food artists who are playing with and challenging societal concepts of deliciousness and appeal. “I think the fact that messy cakes are trending is reflective of people pushing against glossy airbrushed-ness,” says George McCallum, a London-based cake artist.
People are increasingly resonating with anti-ambition worldviews. It’s why goblin mode has risen as an avenue of permissible indulgence for those worn out by relentless self-betterment. As the minimal aesthetic wanes, contrarian youth are embracing maximalism and 'cringe' on multiple fronts. From TikTok’s viral pink sauce to ‘ugly cute’ gifts, Gen Zers are adopting playful attitudes towards self-expression while exploring new identities that reject the aspiration and perfectionism of previous generations. Leaning into this emerging mindset, brands can help people embrace flaws in a healthy way. For example, Smoothez is creating ‘anti-shapewear’, and J.Hannah has popularised a ‘compost colour’ nail polish.