Apple pie as subversive? Life changing?
This apple pie was all that.
It was college. I was attending the very crunchy (in a good way) Sonoma State University. I spent much of my free time with two dear friends. One was a brainiac on the cutting edge of biotechnology. The other was an artist.
He was everything a scientist should be – intriguing, spacey, lanky, expansive, and introverted.
She was everything he was not…impulsive, loud, silly, beautiful, solid.
We hung out a lot at the home of the scientist’s grandparents – a funky old house in Sebastopol. There was an apple orchard just outside the back door and in the rainy, cold weather that Northern California does so well, we picked apples.
Then, we did the oddest thing for college students. We made a pie. Or rather, we watched our scientist friend make a pie. It was rough and rustic, he left the peel on and cut it in large slices, and then topped it with lot of butter, oatmeal and brown sugar. He even made the crust, amazing to me back then. It was tart and delicious. We took photos of it, pre-Instagram, and ate the entire pie that night.
The next day he left school for the biotech word. I saw him years later and he had changed. He had become a little more knowing, and with it, a little more cynical. He’d been part of the team that took genetic matter up in space to alter it and then study it. Whatever it was, it was above me, but what I did understand was that something had changed.
Apple pie seemed too simple for him now.
My artist friend made her way to Art Center, then to San Francisco where she blossomed as a designer and a person. I made my way to UCLA, journalism, and then found the event industry. It’s funny to follow the thread of the paths that diverged from a moment in time.
I still think of that pie and of sitting in that humble, cold kitchen eating it, not sure what the future would bring. The clouds outside were forming and would break open later that day. But a little bit of a storm was forming in each one of us too that would propel us into the future.
All that from a little apple!
Then, when I read an article this past week in Fast Company about an Instagram series by Ken Carbone, I was reminded once again of the apple pie. Just like that apple pie, Carbone’s series began simply enough and then got complicated. Carbone, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Director of the Carbone Smolan Agency, a design and branding company in New York City, began the series on a whim, impulsively entitling the first one “An apple a day. #1.” When he did that, he said, he knew he was committed.
Even though it’s perhaps taxing at times, he said the project, which is still ongoing, has made him to be a better designer. It’s required him to approach the apple anew each day, to rethink his methodology, and above all to be push himself to do so. In essence, he goes back to the drawing board every morning with the apple in mind.
“When you do design on our scale,” he told the online magazine referring to the large projects his firm takes on, “You have to stick with it until the end, not be afraid of a blank page, and constantly reassess what you’re doing. In a small way, this project reflects all of that … It’s my design yoga.”
True to the adage, it would seem that an apple a day definitely does keep the doctor — and in this case, the design doldrums — away.