Tapas: sketches from a Spanish kitchen

A glass plate for elBulli, designed by Estudio Luesma & Vega

got leche?

The sunny, surreal nature of Spanish cuisine and decor is on full display at “Tapas,” a multi-media exhibit of food, tableware and restaurant design now being served at the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain in Washington, DC.

Like the appetizers that give the show its name, the items have been curated  and assembled to provoke the eye and delight the palate—from an ingenious cutting board that sends breadcrumbs down a chute to feed the birds outside to 3-D printers that mold raw ingredients into fanciful shapes and decorative presentations. There are playful touches as well: coffee cups with the handle inside, silver plated trivets made of “toast,” a re-purposed dessert cart that comes with its own pop-up cake tray and chic recyclable wood utensils and plates.

My favorite: a display devoted to the humble Chupa Chups lollipop whose logo and package design were created by Salvador Dalí. Who knew?

According to Miguel de Cervantes, hunger makes the best sauce. But it is the aesthetic and wit of “Tapas: Spanish Design for Food” that give la “cocina española” new piquancy and appeal.


Leave a comment

Five lessons creatives can take from the Olympics

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dimitri Soloviev competing in the ice dance competition

Dancing with the stars
Getty Images

The party in Sochi may be over but the lessons and memories linger on—for creatives, no less than athletes. Herewith, some inspiration to take from the 2014 Winter Games.

1. Learn from the best. Study not just the best brands (and programs), but the creative teams (and performers) that bring them to life. Deconstruct their work and see how they think and what you can adopt, build on and make your own.

2. Perfect your craft. Sounds obvious but you don’t become an Olympian contender overnight. Push yourself to go further and do more. Refine your skills and never think you’ve reached the end of your training because you haven’t. Take advantage of webinars, read the trades and creative annuals, attend conferences. You’ll meet people and expand your horizons, all of which makes you more receptive to new thinking—and creating.

3. Dig deep. We live and die on the creative brief. But that’s just the beginning of the creative journey. Whatever you’re working on, become an expert. Study the product, the category, the marketing landscape. Get to know the target on a first-name basis—their hopes, fears, dreams, pain. Muscle memory is not just for athletes. When you know something in your bones and in your heart, you escape the conventional and open your work to new and better ways to communicate and engage.

4. Don’t settle. There’s more to creative exploration than online photo research. Get out there and exercise your right brain. Art, like chance, favors the prepared mind so give yourself regular cultural workouts and see how they can enrich your storytelling and the emotional connections you build between your brand and your audience.

5. Be a good sport. The creative director shot down your idea? The client hates it? Get up. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Citius, altius, fortius. Or as they say in Sochi: “Hot. Cool. Yours.”


Leave a comment

O say can you see? Time for Presidents’ Day advertising.


It’s good to be the king, as Mel Brooks (playing Louis XVI) famously observed. But it’s even better to be a founding father. That way you get all the credit for being present at the creation but little of the blame when your offspring grows up sullen and contentious. And in America what better way to make a sale with a reference—however broad or irrelevant—to more enlightened times and players.

Two marketers, however, stand out in all the Presidents’ Day deals-and-discounts commercial shlock. Both Quicken Loans and Nationwide leverage our founding fathers with appealing and memorable creative that effectively communicates their selling message while staying true to their brands.

Our favorites today:

Leave a comment
  • Don't miss another word
    Sign up for our newsletter

    Read past issues here.

    * = required field
  • Sign up for our blog