ideas made tangible

Last week I came across a baking dish that holds one stack of lasagna noodles instead of the three you’d normally use in a 13x9 pan. I’ve always wanted one of these. I remember being in one of my first apartments, sometime in 1993 or 1994, missing my grandmother’s lasagna and lacking the enthusiasm for a week’s worth of leftovers in one pan. A few years ago, I saw a woman on television talking about her invention—a metal pan just right for a one-row lasagna. Awesome to have your brainstorm validated in that way, really.  Some manufacturer picked it up, and it became a porcelain reality on the shelf in a suburban Canadian grocery store. This weekend, I packed it full of mushrooms and the best mozzarella I could get my hands on, and the results were dinner on Saturday and Sunday nights.

I love experiencing the kind of creativity that makes me wish I’d made it myself. I wish I’d been responsible for the opening sequence of True Blood, which holds me rapt every time. Every little detail, from the cellulite on one woman’s thigh to the tension in the praying women, praying so hard, gets me right in the mood for the story. I make that wish most often when I’m reading a book that ends up being one of my favorites: Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and Drood by Dan Simmons come to mind because they elicit complete immersion into the world of the story. They’re novels, though, and until they’re made into films (they’d both make amazing films, Hollywood; get on that), they remain products of imagination alone. It’s a different experience to hold that creativity in your hands with a perfectly sized oblong baker.

If you could live in it, though? Because this site says that I could. It’s not an old house, but there’s room for character. So much of this appeals to me—its small size, its logic, its flexible spaces like the lower-floor apartment and the upstairs storage area. In Canada, they’d build them with the upper floors in the basement and wind up with a bungalow, according to Builder Online. It means that oversized monstrosity houses (I hate the McTerm that people use for them) are going to become as out-of-style as avocado refrigerators and macramé. Finally. Finally. If you take the tour (note: audio!), you’ll see how the closet in the adaptable suite can become a kitchenette. You’ll see that the master bedroom is a place for sleeping, not for home theaters and spa retreats. You’ll see that it’s humble, without vaulted ceilings and windows that defy curtaining. It’s not for showing off what you can afford. It’s for living in. Yes, it’s every single thought I’ve had about a house, made real in this century, with only a few hundred square feet more than my townhouse. It’s the kind of place I could stay in for decades, and I love it.

It’s one thing to have a great idea, a brainstorm that feels innovative enough that you wonder if it’s even possible, let alone whether anyone else would get it. When I come back to read a day’s work, I usually have a gut sense of whether it worked or not, whether there’s merit to it, and even that sense is fallible. But it’s another thing altogether to see that it works for other people, that it makes sense in the real world. Even if I’m not responsible for my lasagna baker or the New Economy Home, it’s a charge to see them. It means other people were thinking the way I thought. It makes me feel good about my other thoughts, the words on the screen that are still just mine.