These two bites from my holiday reading struck me as very similar. The first, from the new monograph on Dieter Rams by Sophie Lovell (Phaidon, 2011); second, from Judy Rodgers’ enchanting Zuni Cafe Cookbook (Norton, 2002), in which she recalls a lesson from age 16, when a neighbor at home “prodded” her to spend the summer with his French friends–who turned out to be the brothers Troisgros.
It would all be much simpler if one could state that Dieter Rams’s work and principles arose from him alone. But Rams would be the first to say that what constitutes his ‘work’ as an industrial designer is inseparable from the systems and networks through which it was produced…. He could never have resolved his concepts without the ideas of his predecessors and contemporaries…Even beyond [the] vast network of people required to create his products, the designs themselves were modular and system-related.
I cannot make a dish without trying to conjure where it came from, and where I first had it, or read about it, or who made it, or taught me to make it. And who grew the vegetables, raised the chickens, or made the cheese. In this way, the simplest dish can recall a community of ideas and people… Jean Troisgros always insisted that cooking is not an art, but is artisanal. His distinction acknowledges the necessity of cooking, and honors the collaborative genius of community in coming up with good cooking.