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Excellence versus perfection

Cheeseplate lunches
« If life were perfect, you wouldn’t have to live it! »  This is my mantra. It is what makes life interesting and even though I am sometimes seduced by the idea of perfection, as an interior designer and a project director for over 30 years, I have seen my fair share of designers painstakingly search for a perfect design solution, a perfect detail, a perfect whatever, to no avail!  One person’s perfection is another’s imperfection.  A far better and more satisfying option has always been to search for the expression of excellence.

Interior design/architecture has always been about being in the middle, being the bridge between a myriad of disciplines – client, architects, engineers, cost consultants, constructors, providers and suppliers, all sorts of points of view and visions; where the most oft heard statement is “my idea is the only idea!”.  Being the designer in the middle has always meant having to be inquisitive, creative, open, flexible and modest but above all respectful of all the various competing egos that make up a team.

So recently when a former colleague asked me to look at an addition to her CV that would explain why she was the appropriate candidate for an exciting new job, I got to thinking about perfection versus excellence. While the job was outside her discipline, it was by no means outside of her capabilities and expertise.  She has always been able to produce creative design ideas; recognized projects, cost effective solutions and well run project teams. In other words, she has always been able to create and foster excellence from a diverse and sometime disparate group of players.

Every job, every client, every team varies from the others for all sorts of reasons.  So why would this new discipline be different or more difficult for this talented designer/team leader than any other new project for her to be successful?  It wouldn’t!  The ability, passion and desire to create and foster excellence are the most important ingredients in any successful endeavour  not the perfect candidate.

So you ask, what does any of this have to do with cheese?  Cheese, like interior design, is no different; it is the ultimate team effort.  The environment, the animal, the cheese maker, the process, the production, the ageing, the selection are all part of this search to produce an excellent example of a cheese.  No not a perfect one because that can never exist, except perhaps in the mind (or mouth) of the beholder!  Each one of them is different, unique, an exploration and expression of that cheese with those particular elements led by that specific person at that time and place.  No two cheeses will ever be the same. And yet when all these different elements are led in unison towards excellence, the recipient – us – will have an excellent example in our possession to savour. And we can be grateful for all of the effort that “team leader” took to perfect excellence.

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