This pastry chef leans on her STEM background to design impossible-looking desserts.

Dinara Kasko makes cakes. Absolutely stunning cakes.  

They're modern, bold, and structural, with decadent shapes and surprising flavors. They're also designed using algorithms and mathematical principles.

All photos via Dinara Kasko, used with permission.


Kasko, 28, trained for years as an architect and designer in Ukraine and enjoyed her craft but wanted to try something new.

Instead of designing the next great skyline, she attended pastry school with a focus on patisserie (think pastries and sweets as opposed to bread or candies). Kasko combined her skills as an architect with her new medium — sugar — and didn't look back.

But with her architectural chops, Kasko doesn't stick to traditional bundt or tube pans. Instead, she designs and prints her own molds with a 3D printer.

Using her background in math and design principles, along with specialty software, Kasko invents her own one-of-a kind pans.

"Generally speaking, this educational background has influenced my taste and style," Kasko says in an interview via e-mail. "Besides, it has taught me the right proportions, how to design and create beautiful objects of the right proportion."

New desserts start on the computer, where molds are designed and perfected with specialty software.

Then the molds are printed layer by layer with a 3D printer.

Kasko then considers the look and feel of the mold to decide what flavors and consistencies fit best. While any flavor of sponge will do, Kasko challenges herself to make her flavors as unique as her designs.

"As for the basic recipes that go with my moulds, I am trying to make them off-the-beaten track with nice textures," she writes. "Also, the form and what is inside of the cake should be well-combined. If it’s the 'Block' mould, then the cake is dense inside. If it is 'Cloud,' then it has a very smooth texture and so on."

In addition to her background in architecture, Kasko is inspired by contemporary art.

She's traveling to an exhibition on Dutch art in the coming weeks where she'll participate as a speaker and connect with other artists, though few will be working in chocolate and butter.

With desserts that dazzle the eye and the tastebuds, Kasko's food pushes the limits of art and physics.  Here are a few of her amazing sweets.

1. This eye-popping dessert is a cheesecake with goat cheese and cranberries housed in thin chocolate rings.

Kasko had to carefully piece the rings together to ensure they could support the cheesecake without breaking.

2. That's not concrete, it's cake! Kasko contrasted a hard-looking, geometric exterior with soft sponge cake.

3. Kasko worked with parametric designer Andrej Pavlov to create this almost rock-like mold using the mathematical principle of a Voronoi diagram.

For those of you who aren't math majors, according to some helpful lecture slides from that's the "subdivision of the plane where the faces correspond to the regions where one site is closest." Note: Most Voronoi diagrams aren't stuffed with chocolate mousse.

4. Inspired by the work of Matt Shlian, this dessert is actually 81 individual, unique cakes designed with an algorithm to form a single composition.

And yes, that's delicious ruby chocolate.

5. Kasko leaned heavily on her architecture background for this nearly topographic piece, using the triangulation principle to make an edible construction with a lime-basil flavor.

6. This cherry cake came to life after Kasko played around with placing objects in a confined space.

She started with simple spheres, then switched some to cherries for a more natural look.

The inside is chocolate sponge cake with a crispy layer, cherry confit, and chocolate mousse.

Kasko's work is a beautiful reminder that STEM careers and capabilities aren't limited to the classroom, laboratory, or office.

When Kasko didn't find her niche, she quite literally created her own. By making STEM classes, tools, and software more accessible in schools, community centers, and libraries, we plant the seeds of innovation and ingenuity in the next generation.

English⬇️ Мой первый пряничный домик "Tod's" специально для конкурса "Печенье объединяет" от @maria.leonova где я в роли судьи! Делаем пряничный домик, чем оригинальнее, тем интереснее. Для примера я выбрала один из моих любимых архитектурных объектов, построенный в 2004г в Токио - бутик итальянского дома моды Tod's. Выпекала обычное пряничное тесто. Затем сточила края теркой и залила щели растопленным крашеным изомальтом. Отличная возможность просто сделать пряничный домик для себя и семьи на праздники ☺️ Вы можете сделать любой домик - стандартный или нет, по желанию. Судьи проекта: Cinzia Bolognezi @cuordicarciofo, Anna Rastorgueva @anna.rastorgueva ❗️Все подробности по участию, призам и правилам у @maria.leonova ❗️ Вопросы по заданию пишем в комментариях у @maria.leonova под анонсом. . It's my first gingerbread house "Tod's" for the first international cookies competition - COOKIES UNITE. For the competition my inspiration was an amazing Tod's building, located in Tokyo, that is wrapped in a skin of criss-crossed concrete braces and glass that mimics the trees lining the street. I'll be a mentor in the next stage: Gingerbread house! You have to do some creative and nice gingerbread house. The more creative, the better. ❗️All rules, tasks, information about prizes you can find at @maria.leonova❗️ Mentors in other categories: Cinzia Bolognezi @cuordicarciofo Anna Rastorgueva @anna.rastorgueva #okmycake #pastryinspiration #chocolatejewels #pastryart #cake #kharkov #харьков #chefsofinstagram #gastroart #art #pastryart #dinarakasko #chefstalk #pastry #chefs #geometry #instadessert #foodcreation #foodartchefs #foodporn #beautifulcuisine #callebaut #photoart#cookies_unite_dinara#gingerbreadhouse#tods#tokyo#architectura

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And there's nothing sweeter than that.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Cipolla's graph with the benefits and losses that an individual causes to him or herself and causes to others.

Have you ever known someone who was educated, well-spoken, and curious, but had a real knack for making terrible decisions and bringing others down with them? These people are perplexing because we're trained to see them as intelligent, but their lives are a total mess.

On the other hand, have you ever met someone who may not have a formal education or be the best with words, but they live wisely and their actions uplift themselves and others?

In 1976, Italian economist Carlo Cipolla wrote a tongue-and-cheek essay called "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" that provides a great framework for judging someone's real intelligence. Now, the term stupid isn't the most artful way of describing someone who lives unwisely, but in his essay Cipolla uses it in a lighthearted way.

Cipolla explains his theory of intelligence through five basic laws and a matrix that he belives applies to everyone.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."