Lauren Ko came from a family of “phenomenal eaters.” She grew up watching her mother and grandmother make cakes and cookies, but to her recollection, nobody in her family ever made a pie. She had seen beautiful pies on Pinterest and wondered whether she could make pies, but the floral, rustic designs that were popular just weren’t her style.
It was two years ago that she decided to make her first pie. Instead of sticking with the current trends, she wanted to create pies with geometric patterns, straight lines and contrasting colors. She started baking more and posted photos of her creations to her personal Instagram account. In fear of becoming “that friend,” Ko started a public Instragram account, @lokokitchen, in August 2017. She had no idea that her work would soon go viral. At the time of this writing, Ko had 214,000 followers and only 108 posts.
With a background in social work and nonprofit administration, Ko had been working as an executive assistant before she quit her job to focus full time on creating pies and tarts. She now teaches workshops and classes throughout Seattle, flies to food events in other cities, and even got the opportunity to bake with Martha Stewart on her show “Martha Bakes.”
The precise cuts and color combinations of fruit on her tarts, as well as the intricate patterns woven into her pie crusts, often lead people to believe that Ko has professional training in art, design and cooking or even a background in math. She says she has always loved art but has no professional training. She finds inspiration everywhere, from bathroom tile and textiles, to lawn chairs and bamboo purses, and saves images to give her ideas for future pies.
Ko has no plans to sell her pies because her designs are so labor-intensive that they would be impossible to mass-produce. But, more important, she enjoys the freedom of being able to create something new every time she steps into the kitchen to bake and wants to hold on to that freedom while she continues her art.
“I’m going to ride the wave as long as it takes me. You know, the nature of social media is that it changes so quickly, and you never know what’s going to happen with it,” Ko said. “I mean, all of this could go away tomorrow, but as long as I’m able and have more ideas for designs and flavor combinations, I’m going to continue baking and posting.”
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