My grandmother had a room in her house that we were not allowed to enter. It was just off the kitchen, and she would go in and out of it at various points during the day, whether to dress, to fetch a gift, or to get the right tool for a project. It wasn’t locked, but we knew it was her room and I never even tried the latch.
I thought of her room recently, wistfully, when I could not find my good scissors. They are supposed to rest in the middle drawer of my desk, beneath my thicket of screens. I use them for opening book packages and slicing through wrapping paper, cutting my kids’ hair or scalloping an edge.
When I need them, they should be there, sleek and sharp, and they were not. I had to borrow my husband’s giant-handled scissors and gave myself a blister. I gave my son a trim with the kitchen shears and it showed. I tried miniature kid scissors on packing tape, which caused a tangle.
My good scissors are the Fiskars Softgrip 8-inch, sized for smaller hands, but they’re big enough to cut cardboard and maneuverable enough to cut out a snowflake. And the blades stay sharp. A clever friend of mine keeps a pointy 5-inch pair in her closet for snipping tags and threads.
It seems all too appropriate that my scissors are Fiskars, albeit without their trademarked orange handles, now 50 years old. Like the Chemex coffeemaker and AMAC storage boxes, Fiskars are an industrial product that has crossed over into a modernist collectible. They were sold alongside Braun appliances and Luxo lamps at Design Research, another symbol of practical good taste. I’d call them the perfect gift, but for the old wives’ tale that giving someone a blade might sever your friendship.
Online commenters had almost convinced me I should just replace my good scissors, but that seemed weak. After looking from kitchen to office to craft cupboard, I asked my daughter if she had taken them. “They are on [10-year-old]’s desk,” she chirped. “I had to cut something out.”
And so they were, buried under a drift of drawings. I hustled them back upstairs to my desk, where they belong.
Alexandra Lange is the architecture critic at Curbed.