Mondrian Soda?

If you go into the cafeteria at the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, you will come upon a rather extraordinary display in the soda case:

Mondrian Soda

It reminded me of a Mondrian painting, maybe “Broadway Boogie Woogie.”

As it turned out, the man responsible for the display was standing nearby, and we fell to chatting. His name is Derek (if I remember correctly). He is in late middle age, grew up in Hyde Park, and is himself an artist. When I mentioned Mondrian, he smiled, but said it was really Warhol that he was going for with the soda display.

It was fun to talk with someone who took such pride and interest in a work task that many people would not consider worthy of pride and interest. (Alas, Derek wasn’t interested in being photographed with his work.)

I know that the soda display drew me in, and made me buy a soda, which I hadn’t meant to do. On the other hand, I wonder if the Mondrian/Warhol extravaganza may be too chaotic for other customers, or even if some people may not want to buy a soda because they don’t want to disturb the display?

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  1. Charles says:

    I did something similar with the guy making the display for yogurt at my local grocery store. Right after he was done making it perfect I came along to get some and commented that I didn’t want to mess up his work now. We then played a little game and he picked out a couple flavors for me and I went on my way. It was definitely the most fun I’ve had picking out food before.

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  2. Vasari Giorgio says:

    Years ago, I owned a produce store.Daily I would make up very beautiful, artistic displays in my bins and coolers of very large, very fresh fruits and vegetables. At the end of the day I found myself silently cursing my customers for ruining the layout by buying up large chunks of my “art”.

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  3. Craig says:

    Good things can happen when people enjoy their work and aren’t micromanaged.

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  4. Drew says:

    If you are a retailer, bringing excitement to a normally drab category is one the toughest challenges you face everyday. Cheers to this beverage guy for putting forth the effort and thanks for the photo.

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  5. Bob says:

    Were I a store manager/owner, my first question would be: Is there a way to use “display art” to increase sales of soda generally, or to maximize sales of a particular brand (color) of soda? If not, the next question would be: “Why is that employee wasting his time and my money?”

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  6. Eugenio Garcia says:

    Very interesting! You can find artists everywhere you look and in the most mundane things…

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  7. Ian Selvarajah says:

    Great job by the gentleman!

    This reminds me of that old “I’m laying bricks.” vs. “I’m building a cathedral.” story about having pride in one’s work!

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  8. Bingwright T. Skudleton says:

    The University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business cafe is cri de coeur of Hyde Park delis for stimulating lunchtime discourse. I learned more about the global economic reality at those brown bag discussions, sitting elbowside with Nobelians, than I ever did in any econometrics courses…

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