Here’s an insight into my Sunday.
Right now, I’m shelling broad beans. (Actually, I’m clearly procrastinating because shelling broad beans is boring.) These will become part of a broad bean pilau which I’ll serve with spiced grilled courgettes. It’s vegetarian; not because we are but because cooking satisfying vegetarian meals is far more of a challenge, and therefore far more interesting, than serving a slab of meat. It won’t be vegan, because there are limits to what I consider right and proper.
Before I was shelling broad beans, I went to the Heatherwick exhibition at the Victoria and Albert.
Thomas Heatherwick takes a unique approach to design, and it’s one I’m quite fond of. His studio looks at production processes and finds applications for them in new areas, resulting in amazing furniture like these chairs, based on a process used for metal turning (though inspiration could equally have come from a potter’s wheel).
Or the bridge at Paddington Basin that folds up like a caterpillar.
It’s a reminder to all of us to look outside our own field. It’s important to keep up with what your peers are doing, but sometimes the bit of inspiration is going to come from somewhere outside.
Probably the most famous example of this is Google… while Yahoo and AltaVista were all using a directory-based search model, the Google boys looked outside their field, at academic journal citations.
And, well, we all know how that turned out.
One easy example for the V&A, if you’re reading…
The queue to get tickets for that exhibition was easily half an hour long. And I happen to know you have a membership program where someone can pay £60ish pounds and walk up to any exhibition whenever they feel like it, and walk in for free.
The absolute perfect time to try and sell that to me is when I’ve just been in a queue for half an hour, and when you can tell me that buying the membership will also get me in to the exhibition I was about to pay for anyway, but the guy on the ticket desk didn’t even try.
Actually, that’s a bit of a lie… the BEST time to try and sell it to me would be when I’ve just joined the queue that is about to take half an hour.
If you can get your ticket desk staff to ask people buying a ticket if they’re interested in a membership, you’ll make a lot more sales of it and get a lot more money. All these new members are also more likely to come to the museum more, see more of your collection and spend more time in your gift shop. And in times when government funding’s looking doubtful, that’s good for everyone.
Just think of it as the equivalent of saying “Would you like fries with that?”
No need to thank me. But if you could ask Thomas Heatherwick to come up with a new way of shelling broad beans, I’d appreciate it.