After my toothbrush, my phone and computer, this kitchen knife is probably the artefact I use most. In the morning to chop fruit, in the evening to prepare dinner and since corona also to prepare lunch for me and my partner. Preparing food is always a welcome break from work. Your hands get to do something different than typing. And you get something done: Cooking a meal is like a small little project, where you actually do meet the deadline. A very rewarding experience.

When I was young, I started baking before I got into cooking. After all, self-made cakes and tarts are essential to German family life. Only later, as a student, I got into cooking. Baking and cooking seem similar, but are actually two very different ways of preparing food. For baking, good planning and precision are required. If your dough misses the right amount of yeast or soda, you will later not be able to repair the failed cake. Cooking is much more forgiving. A lot of dishes can still be tweaked until the very last moment. A good chef is not necessarily a good baker and vice versa.

You could compare this to researching versus designing. While you can tweak the design of a building until close to the deadline, research is less flexible and requires stricter planning. Maybe this difference makes it so very challenging to combine the two, in practice, but also in education. How rare is it to be a really good researcher and designer at the same time? And why do we expect designers to be good in research, while we do not expect researchers to be skilled in designing?

The short moments of chopping an onion and preparing a meal are great times to let your thoughts wander off…