- Lauren Ko is a Seattle-based baker who got her start after her Instagram account of pies with unique geometric designs went viral.
- Her website Lokokitchen shows her intricately designed pies, which has attracted the attention of Martha Stewart, Oprah, and more.
- Ko’s online fame has given her the opportunity to pursue baking full-time.
- The self-taught baker now spends her days teaching classes and continuing to design eclectic pies.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
To Lauren Ko, pies are more than just food. The Seattle-based, 31–year-old baker says she is “more an artist and designer than a baker.” The only difference is that her medium is edible.
Ko’s Instagram account is filled to the brim with intricately designed pies that draw inspiration from everyday objects and events around her. The skill and detail in her designs might indicate the work of an established pastry chef, but baking started out as a hobby for Ko.
Her website Lokokitchen started in 2017, and has grown from being Ko’s pet project to an online phenomenon that has caught the attention of the likes of Martha Stewart and Oprah. It has since allowed Ko to quit her job in higher education to pursue her passion full-time.
We spoke with Ko to find out more about her inspirations, designs, and what life is like after going viral.
The popularity of Ko's pies led to her quitting her job and making Lokokitchen a full-time gig.
A former executive assistant in higher education, Ko told INSIDER she was "working a 56-hour a week office job" and didn't "have time to just bake or develop new ideas." She said that it got to the point where she couldn't juggle the two, and had to decide which path to take - and pies it was.
Ko quit her job last year, and is now focusing on coming up with new pie designs, and working on teaching classes and workshops in the Seattle and Portland areas, in addition to other projects and collaborations.
Ko makes pies that defy convention.
Ko is known for her colorful, geometric designs that toss out traditional baking conventions. It's something she's proud of.
"Pies are a very warm, traditional, nostalgic kind of food, but to see it done in a modern and unique way is what makes them so appealing," she said.
Many of her pies draw inspiration from the inedible.
Some of Ko's designs don't resemble traditional pie at all, but that's what she says makes the pies so novel and appealing for fans. She's inspired by architecture, string art, textiles and even produce.
Ko told INSIDER she's taken inspiration from items like lawn chairs and purses to bathroom floors and storm drains. "I like to say inspiration is everywhere," she said.
Though her designs might not show it, she's a self-taught baker and designer.
Ko made her first pie in the fall of 2016, when she moved to Seattle. She said she wanted to try something different in the world of floral, leaf cutout-style pies by taking a design-heavy approach.
Her designs were an instant hit online.
Ko first started her Instagram account in August 2017. With only around 200 followers of her own to start, Ko said her first post racked up around 600 likes.
"A couple of weeks later I had something like 4,000 followers," Ko said, and she's since amassed over 250,000 followers on Instagram.
Design comes first for her.
Ko says she enjoys the design process more than anything else.
"It's important my creations are edible, but I'm spending my resources thinking about new designs and ways I can innovate," she said.
Her new day job came by pure chance.
Despite having no formal culinary training, Ko is now making a name for herself in the baking world. Yet her life could've remained unchanged had she not given baking a try.
Ko said she starting designing pies after one caught her attention online. "I saw a really beautiful picture of a pie on the internet and wondered to myself, 'Huh, wonder if I could make one?' And so I set out to do it."
It's something Ko says "absolutely changed [her] life."
Ko says she inherited her passion for food from her family.
Ko told INSIDER that she comes from a "family of phenomenal eaters," having a lot of "early memories of being in the kitchen." She credits her family for her passion and knowledge of food, but adds that what she makes "is totally different from what they're used to making."
Since going viral, Ko said her family is proud of her baking skills and have even made their own Instagram accounts so they can support her work.
"They're super excited to just see my name and my recognition out there," Ko said. "I'm just a regular person and they know that best, so it's all been a welcome surprise to them."
Ko told INSIDER she is "boggled" by her newfound fame.
When she started her Instagram account, Ko says she had no intention of it being anything more than "a holding place" for things she was making in the kitchen.
Ko says taking the jump to pursue a simple interest is what inspired Lokokitchen, and going from being shy to "a public personality on a place like the internet has been a surprise, and a whirlwind," but something she's grateful for.
Ko is currently working on a new Instagram series.
Ko is currently collaborating with advertising agency BBDO to produce an Instagram series called "American Pie."
"Over the next few months we'll share the stories of Americans with diverse backgrounds through pie," Ko told INSIDER.
The series, "American Pie," will focus on families and their stories.
"We'll be featuring different American individuals or families and their stories along with a pie design inspired by patterns, colors, and/or flavors that give a visual of their unique Americanness," Ko told INSIDER.
Ko is still excited about the continued attention.
"It's still been really wild," Ko said. "The best part has been meeting creators, artists, and designers and developing relationships with people that I don't think I'd otherwise have had the opportunity to meet."
Ko is grateful for the opportunities pie art has given her.
Ko told INSIDER that she's thankful for the privilege to share her work with people all over the world and hear how pie art impacts and inspires them.
Ko loves coming up with new designs.
"I still love to bake and develop new designs," Ko told INSIDER. "It's just a bit harder now because I've made so many!"
And Ko said she is excited to take on new challenges.
"I am excited to continue exploring new design angles and in particular, take on the challenge of intricate and beautiful patterns as part of the American Pie series," Ko said.
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