Natasha Case: Architecture Ice Cream Aficionado
Natasha Case exemplifies an individual using her architecture background to push the boundaries of traditional practice. In 2009, while working in architecture for Disney Imagineering, she founded Coolhaus with Freyer Estreller. The success of the architecturally-inspired ice cream sandwiches have grown into an empire larger than most architecture firms with mobile locations (food trucks) in Los Angeles, New York City, Austin and Dallas as well as two brick and mortar locations in LA.
Natasha Case is a Los Angeles native. She attended UC Berkeley for undergraduate studies, where she majored in Architecture and double minored in City & Regional Planning and Italian Studies. Natasha furthered these studies at UCLA where she pursued a Masters of Architecture, and after graduating worked as an architectural intern at Walt Disney Imagineering in Hotel and Master Planning. During this time she started baking cookies and making ice cream, and naming the ice cream sandwich combinations after famous architects and architectural movements and handed them out to her peers who found them to be tasty comic relief in spite of recent layoffs and discussion of further impending cutbacks. A few months later, Coolhaus launched out of beat up postal van purchased off of Craigslist.
Prior to starting Coolhaus, Natasha had a dream that Rem Koolhaas and her were walking down the beach in Martha’s VIneyard, and he told her “the secret to architecture is…” and then Natasha woke up! As it turns out his name has been her secret weapon for doing something architectural but outside-of-the-box.
The Quick Details
Name: Natasha Case
Location: Los Angeles
Degree(s): Masters of Architecture, UCLA; Bachelor of Arts, UC Berkeley with Concentration in Architecture and Double Minor in Italian Studies and Urban Planning
Personal Heros: Rem Koolhaas, Kathryn Bigelow, Jenna Lyons, her parents
PofA: What first made you interested in architecture?
NC: I think my dad showing me how to draw stairs in perspective when I was about 4 or 5.
PofA: What do you do now?
NC: I am the CEO of Coolhaus, a gourmet, ‘architecturally-inspired’ dessert company.
PofA: How do you apply our architecture background to your current job?
NC: My job is hugely benefited by my architectural training: I do all of the branding, marketing and sales collateral, truck design and layout including submitting plans to health departments, overseeing storefront design, packaging creation, technological aptitude (ie Adobe Creative Suite and printing needs)—and also the intense work ethic required to complete architecture training has proved handy! That list is just a start…
PofA: What’s in store for the future of architecture education, the profession, and/or the building industry?
NC: Broadening the scope with a more intentional stroke and deliberate strategy—I think it (currently) happens more accidentally, but architects could be better trained in business, real estate, branding and marketing, etc… Rather than realizing after-the-fact that they have already learned skills they could use in other professions. I also think more emphasis will be paced on the economy of design—how to control ones own process and hours to maximize efficiency and keep billable costs down for clients.
PofA: Any last thoughts?
NC: People often ask me if I will ever return to the architectural field—I tell them I’ve never left! I feel more a part of the field than ever before. Sometimes by going outside a traditional component of the field, we become more involved than ever.