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Comments (1) Posted 12.31.10 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Alexandra Lange

Designing with Cookies



(via Things Organized Neatly, a blog that takes arranging cookies to a whole new level)


In describing my multi-generation design family this year, I have used the phrase "design DNA" a couple of times. I have used it to try to communicate how comfortable modernism feels to me, and a childhood in which press type and galleys; thank-you notes hand-lettered in Bodoni, Caslon and Helvetica; Wegner chairs and houses made of industrial windows were all just part of the landscape. I like to think it gives me a little sympathy with architects like Eero Saarinen, who seemed to come out of the womb drafting. Or Ray Eames, patron saint of arrangers. For some, design comes naturally.

I was reminded of the casualness with which my family treats design — it is in everything just as a matter of course — when I was at my grandmother's house for Christmas arranging the cookies on a plate. In my family, each member has a signature cookie. My grandmother always makes cinnamon Os for my grandfather (even though he is no longer with us). My uncle makes buckeyes. My mom makes biscotti. I make almond lace. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren make trees and stars and little angels decorated with varying skill. They are piled up in tins and deployed at dessert time.

When I was about seven, someone noticed I was good at arranging the cookies on a plate. It seemed only reasonable to me to separate cinnamon from almond with a wedge of green frosted trees, to create a bulwark of spherical buckeyes between the ladylike sand bakkels and the swirls. Why make brown piles when you could make a wheel of varied texture, color and shape? I guess they knew then that I was going to follow in the family tradition. Whether my medium was sugar, or paper, or concrete, or words, the thought process would be the same. What that also meant, in the way of any family, is that 30 years later arranging the cookies on a plate would still be my job.
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LOL! My brothers would shake their heads at me when I played with my toy cars and toy soldiers and robots - sometimes rather than participate in mock battles or demolition derbies, my toys would get placed in intricate patterns arranged according to colour and "type". Even my Lego creations were designed with coordinated colours, shapes and sizes. I would cringe inside when my friends would reach into the tub and pull out random Lego pieces to construct their creations.

I never really thought about that in relation to my becoming a designer later on! Thanks for the article!
Darrell
01.11.11 at 11:40


Design Observer encourages comments to be short and to the point; as a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.
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DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY Alexandra Lange

Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

Design Research
Chronicle Books, 2010

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