Surrounding Yourself with Beauty
David Perell recently wrote a short piece on taste, a topic I’ve been interested in lately. Taste became important to me when I started to delve into my creative side with writing. After writing everyday I noticed a correlation between what I read and what I wrote. From there, I began to tailor my content diet to improve my taste. I’d choose the great works from a varity of genres to expose myself to different fields and perspectives.
The best way to cultivate taste is to surround yourself with tasteful objects. That’s why great artists, in any domain, are such conscious consumers. The best designer I know has a home filled with coffee table books that range from Monet’s paintings to Le Corbusier’s architecture. The same is true for writing. When I asked my first boss how to become a better writer, he said: “Read a bunch of quality writing.” - David Perell
But it went beyond what I read, it mattered what I listened to, what I watched, and the objects I surrounded myself with. I now realize that this is another reason why I chose to live in New York. New Yorkers have impeccable taste, you can see this in the way people dress on the subway and what music people listen to. New York is also one of the capitals of culture. You’ve got the Met, MoMa, hundreds of museums, broadway shows, live music venues, everything.
Some people commented that I have unique, eclectic taste. I take that as a compliment because it’s intentional. If I listen, read, and watch the same media as everyone else then I’ll think like everyone else. As a creative, it’s crucial that I’m original in my work and being original requires unique inputs.
So what do I do to cultivate my taste?
- Visiting cultural institutions. In Perell’s piece on taste, he mentions frequently visiting the Met when he lived in New York to refine his taste. Making a ritual of visiting cultural centers such as art galleries and museums is a great way to do this.
- Consuming the best works in a medium. For movies, check out Roger Ebert’s Great Movies List. For music, maybe look at the Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. For books, I recommend reading the classics.
- Eating good food. I believe developing your tastes includes all senses including (literal) taste and smell. This is why I’m adventurous with food and though I haven’t explored it yet, I’m open to fine dining.
- Travelling to beautiful places. This can be to other countries or cities with great taste like Paris or Florence or places that are naturally beautiful.
- Creating a beautiful space. If it’s not evident by the subject of my recent blog posts, interior design has captivated my curiousity lately. Designing a beautiful space is one of the most tangible things we can do to surround ourselves with beauty and cultivate our taste.