Ever had a conversation with someone who really knows their onions?
I did recently when I met for a Christmas drink with my local allotment-holders. Most, like me, are new to it all – we’re the ones with the big plans and all the answers. Then there’s Dick. He’s been working his plot since before I was born. As the evening progressed, he began holding court. I say ‘holding court’, but he was very slow to give advice: there were no ‘secrets for success’, he said, and he’d failed as many times as he’d succeeded. His knowledge wasn’t gleaned from an overnight viewing of Jamie or Hugh, but from more than 40 years of working his plot, through good years and bad.
I am inspired by people like Dick – the enthusiasts, boffins, specialists and experts who spend time really getting to know their subject or craft. And design is full of them. They believe there is no substitute for experience and getting their hands dirty. As technology accelerates our culture, I remain inspired by people who take the time to peel away the layers, investigating and thinking deeply in order to design well.
I once queued up after a concert for tips from Jools Holland on how to improve my piano playing. ‘Practise more,’ he said. Hmmm.