Last week I got to have dinner at Gracie’s, my favorite restaurant in Providence, and it was an awakening, as usual. But there was one course that caught me by surprise because the storytelling pulled me to a place I hadn't been to since childhood: home.
Beautiful golden yellow gnocchi were snuggled together in a light brown butter sauce. Floating in the tiny in between spaces were creamy brown chanterelle mushrooms and melted leeks Amongst all those earthy, humble flavors, salty and crispy lardons supplied a meaty decadence, and sauerkraut brought a necessary acid. All of this was slightly hidden beneath a little cloud of raw clover.
Nick and I were sat at a small table that was similar to a corner booth, This little dish was placed between us, next to the small candle that provided a warm glow, but not enough light, which meant we had to lean in closer to see and then eat from the bowl—a lovely intimate experience which leant to the contextualization of this experience.
Beautifully cooked and delicately seasoned gnocchi always makes me feel warm, safe, comforted. But the second strong flavor comes from the fresh clover which fills your senses with the smell of grass. That’s when I realized I was on a farm. I could smell the rich soil, the sweetness of rain. The fat and sleepy pigs were literally on the plate rustling around, trying to sleep in the warm sun. And the sauerkraut, an essential acidic ingredient to balance the dish, quietly went about its duties like the practical farmer, saving the fall harvest in pickling jars that line the cellar walls.
It was everything I love about the mid-west on a plate. It was a photograph of a place and a moment. The details were so masterful that I felt the story I was being told was my own.
Now. How to translate this type of storytelling into design? Or, brand? How do we create connections that feel intimate and personal in 2D? How do we transport the viewer to another place that is both new and familiar?
Photo credit: Ian Baldwin, Unsplash