Monday, July 2, 2007

Ratatouille: Customer Research Makes Everything Richer, From Animated Movies to Product Experience

Incorporating customer research into the product lifecycle can lead to drastic changes in the way a product is designed. This same impact can be felt in movies when they consult domain experts. This weekend I went to see Ratatouille with my 4 year old, and was amazed at the attention to culinary detail. It turns out that they worked with chef gurus Thomas Keller, Anthony Bourdain, and others and you can see how rich the results are. Here is some info from a recent NY Times article:

The Pixar crew took cooking classes, ate at notable restaurants in Paris and worked alongside Mr. Keller at the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.

…Gusteau's is an amalgam of several restaurants in Paris, including Guy Savoy, Le Train Bleu and Taillevent. At a staff meeting at Taillevent, Mr. Lewis finally understood the intensity of high-level service. "They had recorded that one woman took 10 minutes between her first sip of white Burgundy and her second," he said. "So they concluded that the wine was too cold and were going to adjust accordingly."

What a great job! I'd love to shadow Thomas Keller at any of his restaurants or fly to Paris to experience 3 Michelin star restaurants. What an even greater decision by Pixar to allow the designers to do this. The more we know about an experience the better the design of the product.

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