Food for thought

Published:  March 1, 2010
Food for thought

Ferran Adria is in my humble opinion, one of the greatest and most revolutionary designers in the world and is responsible for some of the most innovative works in history. Now, I’m not surprised if you’ve never heard of this artist/designer before – unless of course you were familiar with the term ‘molecular gastronomy’ – in which case, you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about.

Carrot air. All images copyright el bulli

Carrot air. Image copyright el bulli

That’s right, Ferran Adria is a chef. Not just any chef – he’s the head chef of El Bulli, a restaurant in Spain that has been named the best restaurant in the world for the last few years or so. In 2006, he was awarded the Raymond Loewy Foundation’s Lucky Strike award – Europe’s most prestigious designer award and the first time ever that the foundation has acknowledged the work of a chef. The food that is served in his restaurant isn’t food in the traditional sense and look more like beautiful science experiments as opposed to an entrée or main course. He combines science and food and describes his methods as ‘deconstructivist.’ The whole concept behind his restaurant is to play on the memories of familiar flavours and to present them in new and innovative ways in order to elicit strong, emotional responses from his customers. He breaks down traditional recipes and ingredients, extracts the essence of their flavours then reconstructs them in a different form to produce new and interesting experiences. Ferran pushes the boundaries of food and has in a sense, redefined the experience of eating out at a restaurant. He continues to push the limits of his and his team’s creativity in trying to come up with new techniques and ideas to express familiar flavours and take customers to places that they’ve never dreamed of going before.

Lychee soup. All images copyright el bulli

Lychee soup. Image copyright el bulli

As a designer, I find such thinking and practises to be extremely inspirational. By redefining the whole concept of food and the experience of dining out, he has essentially opened up an entire new world of expression that was never thought possible. Could the same thing be done for graphic design? In an industry dominated by the computer, is there room within the current paradigm to expand and create new, never before seen designs? Or, like the food industry, do we need a revolutionary to come along, shake things up and redefine the meaning of graphic design? With technology making the practice of graphic design so readily available to the average citizen, designers really need to step up their game in order to stand out and leave their mark in this world. And while I fully understand El Bulli’s business model is highly impractical and a privilege that’s only afforded to the rich and famous (the restaurant is only open for 6 months during the year and operates at a net loss, despite being completely booked out), his process of ‘deconstruction’ is still something that I think is useful for designers to keep in mind and adopt when coming up with concepts for their latest and greatest designs.

Special mention should also be made of Heston Blumenthal – celebrity UK chef and owner of the Fat Duck; another proponent of molecular gastronomy who has given the world wonderful creations such as absinthe jelly and egg and bacon ice cream.

Egg and bacon ice cream. Image copyright Charles Haynes

Egg and bacon ice cream. Image copyright Charles Haynes

Main Image (Mango Ravioli) copyright el bulli

2 Responses

  1. lydia

    the icecream looks great, i would give that a try. actually i would try all of those – the presentation is beautiful.

  2. claire

    i used to watch heston’s tv show, he is great, so inventive, kinda like a modern day willy wonka!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *