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Happy Birthday, Design Museum!

September 25, 2009

London Design Museum

How do you celebrate a temple of design? Why, with a bake-off, of course!

London’s already luscious Design Museum gets even more delicious tonight. As part of the “Super Contemporary” series marking its 20th anniversary, doors will open for one night only (nothing stale here) on results of the Birthday Bakeoff, featuring homages to “iconic design” done entirely in flour, fat and frosting. Yum.

K&C petits-fours: Too pretty to eat?

K&C petits-fours: Too pretty to eat?

If they are nearly as whimsical as these pastries, from the also iconic London patisserie of Konditor & Cook, the exhibit should be lots of fun … and tantalizing. Visit  Konditor’s site — or, better yet, one of its five London locations — for more cake-porn. I stumbled on the original outlet when I lived for two months in London in 1999. Back then, its South Bank location was still a little edgy. But the bakery anticipated, and undoubtedly nudged along, the area’s gentrification and design explosion.

Returning to the States, my luggage contained a copy of owner Gerhard Jenne’s fingerlickingly photographed, decorating cakes and cookies, including his recipes and techniques for thickly layered icings. My favorites, though, are the unfrosted, buttery chocolate-vanilla checkerboard cookies. (Anyone want me to blog the recipe here?)

So, it’s a shame I can’t be at the museum tonight to ogle the caloric show. I did visit in June 2008, when my anglophilic mate and I delighted in its several airy, sunlit floors devoted to aesthetics in all forms and functions, from toothpaste tubes to fashion shoots to airports. Getting there (we went by bike), was an adventure in design, too, of the urban kind. Whether reaching Shad Thames via the marvelous Thames Walk along the South Bank, as we did, or crossing from the north side via Tower Bridge, one passes through historic precincts devoted to new uses. They date variously from the 11th century (the Tower) or the more recent mercantile and seafaring past evidenced on the south side, where many yellow-brick and stone riverfront warehouses from Victoria’s reign and earlier have been transformed into sleek condos, cafes, and office space aimed at the design trades. Their cobbled streets offer a European feel, as in this shot I took outside the museum:

London's Shad Thames area, near Design Museum.

London's Shad Thames area, near Design Museum.

Now I’m hungry. For design.

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