Seymourpowell created a bespoke, mechanical art piece for the Dinner by Heston Blumenthal restaurant in London. 'The Dinner Escapement' has been designed as a breath-taking spectacle that adds a unique layer of history and story-telling to one of the restaurant's signature dishes, Tipsy Cake: a dessert of brioche balls, baked like a cake and then laced cream, brandy and sweet wine, until the cream caramelises and is served with spit-roasted pineapple basted with spiced caramel, based on a 19th century recipe.
"We were asked to imagine and create a wonderful machine to drive the spit that turns the glazed pineapples for the Tipsy Cake over a wood-burning fire, while also building on diners' experience of the dessert," commented Ade Caroen, chief creative at Seymourpowell. "In the same way the menu at Dinner is inspired by historic British gastronomy, we were inspired by the great inventions of the past and asked ourselves 'what might have happened' if Dinner had briefed designers and inventors of the period that Tipsy Cake was first made."
Taking their cue from Heston and his team's rigorous research into the history of British food, Seymourpowell delved into the past to explore the mechanical and scientific advances in Britain in the 18th Century. They were struck by the work of two individuals in particular: John Harrison, a carpenter and clock-maker who revolutionised the field of navigation with his 'Harrison Clock', and the inventor Thomas Newcomen who created the first practical steam engine, originally to pump water out of mines. The 'escapement' takes its name from the crucial ticking mechanism in a traditional clock that regulates the movement of the pendulum, referencing the historic mechanical inspiration and the meticulous attention to detail contained within Seymourpowell's design.
"We loved the idea of how combining motor and clockwork elements create a kind of mechanical ballet drawing on poignant historical references but based entirely on Seymourpowell's imagination," Caroen continued. "It pays homage to our great inventors who contributed significantly to the worlds of mechanics and design, just like the menu at Dinner pays homage to the great gastronomic minds of the past."