Dinner parties are notoriously where my favorite relationships start. From my spouse to lifelong friends, even potential collaborators… nothing quite compares to connections built around a table, where we share food and stories.

Before they moved to Pennsylvania to operate a regenerative organic farm in Berks County, I had the pleasure of meeting the founders and creative duo behind Coexist Build, Ana Konopitskaya and Drew Oberholtzer, at a dinner party in Brooklyn. A few glasses of wine, and several anecdotes later, I knew there would be a creative collaboration on the horizon. I just didn’t expect it to take 10 years!

Courtesy of Coexist

Courtesy of Coexist

Courtesy of Coexist

With the goal of transforming traditional culinary experiences into something more innovative and thus memorable, Taste : Work : Shop started a series of compelling collaborations with unexpected material brands. This month we are highlighting a modular food display system built with Hemp Blocks by Coexist, an architect-led company determined to revolutionize conventional construction practices and bring healthier options to the market.

Hemp Blocks with ceramic and copper \ Design + Photo: Taste : Work : Shop

Hemp Blocks with ceramic and steel \ Design + Photo: Taste : Work : Shop

The Hempcrete blocks are manufactured in their facility 10 miles from the farm by combining the plant’s woody core with a limestone-based binder and water. The hemp and wood used are free from formaldehyde, VOCs, and allergens. This seemingly simple recipe makes the blocks both lightweight and biodegradable. In addition to the blocks, Coexist also has a research and development lab for experimenting with other “seed-to-structure” healthy, plant-based building materials.

Applewood smoked bacon, blistered Castelvetrano olives and tomato salad with confit garlic and basil \ Design + Photo: Taste : Work : Shop

They are currently nominated for this year’s Sustainability Dezeen Awards for their Traveler DIY kit. A next level of modern construction, this kit is designed with materials based on performance efficiency, environmental and health impact, and life cycle analysis. Hence, proving that building beautiful and breathable structures without off-gassing materials is possible.

Beet cured smoked salmon, caper berries, and pickled jalapeño cream cheese \ Design + Photo: Taste : Work : Shop

As the world of food is advancing, it is clear that how food is presented is almost as important as how it tastes. Creating a multi-sensory culinary experience heightens the consumers engagement.

By using Coexist’s Hempcrete blocks as the foundation, we created tabletop displays perfect for visual merchandising but healthy enough to serve brunch off of!

Toasted brioche with inset frittata rounds \ Design + Photo: Taste : Work : Shop

Pistachio and cream waffle cannolis \ Design + Photo: Taste : Work : Shop