It's interesting to think about how different creative disciplines are inter-related. Strangely enough, the Food Network has become a major source of inspiration for me. With the potential to engage all 5 senses at once, culinary is an incredible and demanding art form. Several principles in fine cuisine apply to design. I intend to write about some of these similarities.
On a cooking show called The F Word, host Chef Gordon Ramsay challenges an untrained home cook to a dessert-off. The winner gets to have their dessert featured on the menu that night. Shockingly, He rarely wins! Considering Chef Ramsay is one of the most decorated on the planet, you have to ask how this happens—an amateur beating a master.
Consider Your Audience
The problem was the judges were also untrained and had no taste for fine foods. Gordon cooked a dish for a food connoisseur… not a typical consumer. Given the option a user will always go for the sugary fat stuff, not a light well balanced treat.
In design we can fall into the same trap. Most of the time I design something how I want it, which usually isn't good considering I'm rarely the target user. Drew Wilson often talks about the ease inherited when creating a product with you yourself as the target audience. So we are left with a few big questions; how do you evolve design without alienating users, and how do you find the line of forcefully telling users what is best for them? I suppose data resolves all things.
Taste & Inspiration
In a recent episode of The F Word, Chef Ramsay describes the purpose of his luxurious lifestyle. The man is constantly taking trips all over the world to try new foods and experience unique cuisine. His reasoning being, if you don't taste good food how can you cook it?
I love that! Taste is what separates a good designer from a great one. Immersing yourself in good design inspiration is so key. In a recent interview Ryan Singer was asked what he saw startups doing wrong. He replied that he only follows startups that were doing things right. As elitist as that sounds I think its good to only give your time and attention towards the things you aspire to be creating. If you don't taste good design, you can't create it.