Speaking of architectural style, today I had lunch at a restaurant in Vancouver that had a particularly vivid interior design. Sadly, this is the last day of my visit to this wonderful city, so perhaps I was making sure to take especially careful note of my surroundings.
There was something very precise about this restaurant’s decor: Tall ceilings, support columns made of rough vertical timbers, lots of exposed unpainted air ducts crossing high in the air above our heads. It all felt vaguely industrial, but with a particular sort of rustic flavor, subtlely evoking the way Vancouver itself might have been when many such towns were early western outpost for the lumber mill trade.
Of course there were also wine racks built into the walls, a gleaming bar, a well turned out wait staff, and plenty of polish to tell you that this was, in fact, an upscale establishment. If you had any doubt on that score, you had merely to glance at the prices on the menu.
We have equivalent restaurants in New York City, although I am so used to them by now that they barely register. They tend to be brick and wrought-iron, sporting tall ceilings covered with embossed tin-plate. The goal there is to evoke the long lost New York of the the Industrial Age, a colorful and storied place now lst to history, where the robber barons ruled Manhattan, and the Irish mob ruled Five Points out in Brooklyn.
I thought about those actual original nineteenth century houses of food and drink, and these fashionable new restaurants which evoke them with such artful subtlety. And I thought about all the points between, from that time to this.
Wouldn’t it be fascinating to have an “authenticity knob” that one could turn, to see the continuous transformation from original to its ersatz echo? I think that would be a great use for virtual reality.