So I’ve just left Paris after a week of exploring, mastering Metro systems, crying in cathedrals, eating nutella crepes, happily drowning in art and becoming an expert espresso drinker. It was a pretty great week and much to my surprise, I completely and utterly fell in love with Paris.
This isn’t a travel blog so I won’t go into many details about my trip, but I will talk about one thing I noticed again and again in Paris: detail. No matter where you looked in Paris, you’re faced with some sort of beauty. Beauty that could be in the form of art, architecture or the way the winding, baron tree branches look against Paris’ white winter sky. This beauty is then often accompanied by finer details if you take the time to look closer.
On the first day I arrived in Paris, I went for a walk around the neighbourhood I was staying in, Levellois-Perret. As I walked I admired the beautiful buildings. It was only after 15 minutes did I realise that the windows and facades of some of these buildings were not real. Rather, they were paintings of a building’s windows and facades. Someone had taken the time to paint real-life looking windows over the entire blank side of the building. I’m not sure there would be a practical purpose to this, but the aesthetics were effective. I can only imagine that blank walls would have been quite cold and the attention to detail here allowed the entire neighbourhood to feel cozy and intimate.
I also visited the Eiffel Tower. I went just before sunset so I was able to see the Eiffel Tower in both daylight and in darkness when it is all lit up. I decided to go to the second floor of the tower, which, believe me, is plenty high. My legs were so sore from the previous day’s walking so I opted to use the elevator instead if the stairs. As I was waiting for the elevator, I took some time to take a look at the actual structure of the Eiffel Tower. The amount of detail in the structure is monumental. While I watched the elevator arrive to pick up myself and the rest of the waiting group, I noticed a man sitting on the side of the elevator. I thought he was crazy to be voluntarily sitting outside, managing the ascent and descent of hundreds of Tower visitors a day. However, as he got closer I realised that he wasn’t real or crazy at all, he was just mannequin attached to the side of the elevator cart. It was a deligthful little discovery and it put an immediate smile on my face. But, as delightful as the discovery was, I did begin to wonder “why”. The mannequin elevator operator was not in a highly visible spot. Why include it if no one is going to see it?
Because, I guess, it’s not about the detail itself or whether people will immediately notice it. Rather, it’s about the desire in the creator to take extra care and make the extra effort to pay attention to the details. Hopefully, the result of this being that the effort and the little details cumulatively create something of a really high standard.
I’ve often described myself as an ‘impatient creative’. I never enjoyed creating traditional art very much because the results often only came after a lot of waiting. What I like about the web and the digital world is the rate at which things can happen. The problem with this, however, is that I sometimes skip detail, or stop too soon just to get to the end result quicker. While there are practical things in play such as budgets and client requests, sometimes pushing the details in a project that extra inch can really make all the difference.
The Parisians are all about enjoyment. Through this, they go the extra step to make a good experience better by appreciating the details of their experiences. Eating food on the street and drinking a takeaway coffee as you rush off to the Metro is not normal behaviour. Eating dinner? Sit around for a while after and just people-watch. Having a coffee? Pause and enjoy your coffee with a croissant. Building a building? Don’t just stop at the construction. Add warmth to the cold, blank sides with life-like paintings of windows and hanging gardens. Take a single experience and make it better. Simple.
I don’t know. Food for thought. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to slow down and focus on making good things better.
P.S. Again, sorry this one is late. My fault (again). I’ve flown through so many timezones, I’m currently unaware of any time.
If you can, go the extra mile. If you can't, make time so you can.