A Blasphemous Process

POSTED BY on Jan 17, 2011

Back in design school, in the dark ages, I was taught that every great piece of creative begins with a concept.

Fast forward 25 years and I’m reading "A Day at elBulli" by Ferran Adri?, known as the most creative chef in the world. His 3 Michelin Star restaurant has been considered the best restaurant in the world. Adri? has invented many of the modern cooking techniques that are used around the world today – now you know who to blame next time you get a dish with “foam” on it.

elBulli is open half the year. The other six months, the team works in secret to develop new recipes for the next year’s menu. No dish is ever repeated from year to year. Now that is a serious commitment to innovation.

In this well designed book, Adri? discloses that the first step in his team's creation process is developing new techniques. Then they build on the techniques to create concepts for new dishes. I can’t help but wonder, when a designer wants to break new ground, is it advantageous to start by creating a new technique or application or experience, then build a concept from there.

I know. Blasphemous to put technique before concept. But in my defense, I’m not saying, don’t have a concept. I am just saying, maybe it can work to put the cart before the horse.


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