If perception is reality does this mean every time we knowingly and pleasurably relax our senses with our favourite drink we are upsetting the very fabric of reality? That is a worrying thought and an obvious call to relax our senses even more as we are clearly somewhat overwrought today. As a creative tool, used with moderation, the reality softening possibilities of drink can provide some great inspirations. A lot of creative visionaries have employed the blurring of reality a great cognac or fine malt can deliver.
Hemingway is one obvious example of the an artist who took the approach a touch too far, but along the way managed to write some of the finest literature to come out of America in two decades and invented the Hemingway daiquiri at the El Floridita Bar in Havana and introduced millions of Americans to the joys of sipping a Pernod in a Parisian café.
Some of the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, Dadaists, Fauvists and – well to be frank just about every art movement has at one time or another allowed themselves the luxury of a glass or two before during and after the creative act.
But that is Art. What about design? Do designers recognise the ability of a glass of wine or a spirit to open up the design envelope? Of course they do. This should never be taken to excess of course, and Vincent Van Gogh is NOT the role model that we would aspire to, but the reality is that the imagination is a powerful tool that just about any stimulus can provoke into creating something unique and beautiful. A fine Cognac or a classic cocktail is an excellent way to supply the analytical part of the brain with a minor sedative so that it goes and has a nice lie down and lets the irrational out to play.
Of course there is a direct hike in creativity if you love the product you are designing for in any case, this is also human nature. The fabulous care and attention to detail that is evident in Lalique’s decanter design for The Macallan’s 57 year old Malt is inspiring not just in its immaculate proportions and subtle detailing but also in its manufacture. It took 15 of France’s finest craftsmen to produce the decanters in addition to the labour of love contributed by the Lalique design team. I am sure that they were all sober men and women, however I am equally sure that they know the benefit of a glass or two to lift the imagination.
I am not entirely sure what provoked the Absolut Rock bottle with its studded leather jacket but perhaps the product immersion session went on a little too late into the night. I can picture it easily. It all starts innocently enough with some sampling and before you can say two o’clock in the morning you are in a biker’s bar down at the docks. Wow! I have just had this brilliant idea…!
Certainly that maps pretty well to some experiences we have had in the past — only you need to substitute market research in bars in Dublin for the quay in Stockholm and the black stuff for Absolut.
One day I am going to conduct a scientific experiment to see which of the many wonderful products available has what effect on creativity. Does malt provide increased conceptual depth or aesthetic daring? Does a good Rioja increase the use of colour or does Chablis improve a design’s proportions?
This is an experiment I have attempted many times. Unfortunately, there have been no definitive results to date but one day, once I have found a designated designer, I’ll let you know my findings. I may even invite the boss to review the results.
The Drinks Report, 21st December 2009, Designer Comment with Steve Kelsey, Strategic Innovations Director pi global