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Sometimes, it’s better to be perfect than innovative

I focus a lot on innovation and modernity: how can we keep looking forward and improving on the commonplace. But the truth is, there is something exceptionally valuable about someone who is also a perfectionist in their time and within their profession.

One of my great loves is cooking. And one of my favorite indulgences is cookingware. I love reading about molecular gastronomy and new ways to consume food. But as any chef will tell you, it is your knives that are the most important.

Over the years, I have invested in some good knives. I have watched videos online on how to sharpen your knives and have attempted it many times but never with much luck. After a friend’s recommendation, I went to his knife sharpener. A man in a small boutique where he has been for over thirty years. I left him my knives. And he was good. He was so good, in fact, I had to relearn how to hold my knives because they were so sharp now…a couple of deep cuts later I learned. Cutting and dicing has a new pleasure and ease. The knives seems even sharper than when I bought them. Thank you, North Beach Columbus Cutlery.

His job isn’t necessarily glamorous or innovative. He isn’t pushing the limits or boundaries of his craft but he excels at it. And he is so exceptional that he is memorable. It takes time to be good at what you do, no matter what it is. But it takes passion and commitment to be able to call oneself a perfectionist and produce that kind of work. It also truly takes a diligence that I admire: the ability to work on the same shape, same structure and make continuous, minute changes.

There’s less glamor in it, of course. HuffPo won’t feature him as “The World’s Best Knife Sharpener,” BuzzFeed won’t make an article like “You Won’t Believe What this Man Can Do!” but his work is still important and immensely satisfying.



One Comment Post a comment
  1. Boulet-Time #

    Je peux saisir ce que sous-entend cette allégorie à la perfection, néanmoins concernant l’architecture j’estime que l’innovation a véritablement plus d’importance que la perfection car nous avons un rôle de créateur. A vrai dire, le mieux serait d’avoir les deux !

    De par notre vocation d’architecte l’acte de concevoir nécessite effectivement par son essence une approche perfectionniste. Cependant nous sommes responsables – aux côtés des politiciens et des urbanistes – du cadre bâti d’une société. Or, cet environnement bâti influe sur la culture de ceux qui y résident ou y travaillent et c’est justement parce que nous intervenons sur le decorum d’une société et sur ses fonctionnalités les plus élémentaires que nous pouvons participer pleinement à son évolution.

    L’innovation n’est pas uniquement à prendre au sens technique, elle réside aussi dans les apports culturels et sociétaux que nous imaginons en façonnant petit à petit par nos interventions le cadre urbain.

    Je vous sais franco-américaine (cela doit être pour çà que vous aimez autant cuisiner !) aussi me suis-je permis d’intervenir en français.
    Désirez-vous que je traduise pour vos lecteurs anglophones mon intervention ? (le résultat risque d’être bancal, mais l’exercice peut être amusant !)

    January 12, 2017

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