Yesterday, we thought we had set our favorite Arabia tea cup down on the edge of the bathroom sink, only to hear it smash into the bathtub. Okay, we got the message, we thought: SLOW DOWN. We take small accidents like that as warnings that we are too distracted to be present.

But we got the REAL message the next morning while scanning websites for illuminating ideas, images, and info that would resonate with Improvised Life: CREATIVITY NEEDS REST. 

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

This was a working principle behind elBulli, Ferran Adrià’s paradigm-changing restaurant that closed 6 months each year so the chef and his collaborators could regroup creatively. Says Adrià:

This is essentially the process that all the great artists do when they create art–if you’re a painter, you might take three years off to think about what you’ve done, as compared to the corporate world, where you’re going going going constantly. In order to be creative you have to have that rest period.

Adrià planned regular incubation periods devoted to rest, research, and experimentation in order to step back and see the bigger picture. For his staff, this was part of essentially creating a new restaurant each year. “Whether you’re a butcher or somebody who works for NASA, everybody has access to that creative process.”

And look what the guy DID with that principle! Every recipe he and his team created over seven years is documented elBulli 2005-2011, a catalogue raisonné of wonders like his iconic Vanishing Ravioli (Video link HERE):

We hadn’t quite realized how exhausted we were until we read Adrià’s words at Fast Company. We have been working on all cylinders for months posting 4 times a day, moving forward new ideas for Improvised Life (2 steps forward and 1 step back!), handling the many unexpected turns of our own improvised lives. Over the past few days we’ve been moving as slow-as-molasses, so are going to heed the signs —the broken cup being just one — and take a break for a couple of weeks, to recharge our  spirits and refresh our vision.

We’ll be back on Monday, April 7th. In the meantime, you’ll find more elBulli video’s here.

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11 replies on “Ferran Adrià: Creativity Needs Rest

  1. Amen. Maybe you’ll write a post (or a few) on managing the anxiety of not bearing fruit for a while, and planting instead. Of making the time off restful and productive and limiting guilt. Of reframing work and earning. On how to find one’s personal balance. What are the questions to ask oneself?
    Thank you!

  2. I completely understand your need for rest, but I will miss your daily posts.
    Thanks for opening my mind each day!

  3. SUCH HEARTENING WORDS. Thank you. That’s exactly the mission and I’m so happy to hear that it’s resonating. MORE TO COME!!!!!

  4. All good ideas, Josh. I must say I a moment of anxiety did come over me today as I realized that the structure and deadlines I live with are temporarily gone. Then I just breathed in, thought of all the things I wanted to do…and how nice to have some space. Many of the things on the to-do list will be to grow Improvised Life, which I love, only not under duress. Another question: how to build spaciousness in our very busy lives?

  5. How do we build spaciousness? Allow it and notice it’s there and full of magic. x

  6. Enjoy – and know that you are missed. I so admire all that you do and yes, that even includes knowing when to take a break.

  7. Thank you, Ellen. It’s amazing what sleep, walks, hanging out can do. Hatching plots…stay tuned!

  8. Out of my own kind of rest , coming to your site only saw the words : creativity needs ..
    and added the word ‘you’ . Creativity needs you , whether well rested or taking just a moment , paying attention to what’s really going on (beyond all distractions ).

    Wishing you an inspiring and restful time while i have lots to browse through here , now..

    good vibes : )

  9. Sorry to hear of your broken cup.. But perhaps it’s life isn’t over…

    When you return from your well deserved retreat, (breathe deep. We’ll miss you.) consider Kintsugi…

    In mending the wounds of smashed ceramics, the art of Kintsugi does not disguise the cracks but highlights them in shimmering gold. The reformed ceramic works represent a beauty acquired through overcoming suffering. Kintsugi acknowledges a beauty that comes only with maturing.

    Your treasured Arabic tea cup would no longer be good for tea… But would be a memory of many happy cups drunk in the past, a homage to the beauty of aging and endurance, and a tribute to love and care you took to restore it…

    Or, perhaps, give it a decent burial in the bin and go shopping…
    But not before googling Kintsugi and seeing these quite moving restored pots and bowls.
    I love them!

    Have a wonderful rest.

    Seana x

  10. Hi. Thanks for the reminder of Kintsugi which I’ve blogged before. Various iterations. It has been on my mind. I’ve held onto some broken things with the idea of doing some becoming-something-else repair.The problem right now is finding the time. I appreciated the cup breaking. It told me to stop. A much gentler way than having an accident or getting sick.

    See you soon.

  11. How could such a lovely comment have ended up in Spam? Robots really don’t get it.
    Thank you SO much for this. Glad you are continueing to browse while IL is dark temporarily. There IS a lot there. With much more to come

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