I got pretty drunk last night. Heading home from an amazing a concert at Somerset House, a friend and I cruised about looking for a final nightcap. Finally, looking through some large windows we seemed to find what looked to be a pretty jovial little establishment. Perfect.
I don’t typically drink in central, nor do I typically drink in the type of place that sells a drink called ‘corn dog smash’ or ‘damson in distress’, but I’ve got to say, this place may have converted me. Put simply, I was absolutely blown away by the beautiful interiors of this place. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a design expert. I could probably count the number of times I’ve even noticed nice interiors, let alone wanted to write about them.
I’m generally not a big fan of large-scale hospitality chains. This is for two reasons; firstly, they tend to swallow up local business, and secondly, they all look and feel the same.
Justin Hemmes’ bars across Sydney are a perfect example of how one man can profit on the processes of gentrification, while at the same time sterilizing a long history of unique and interesting drinking venues. While he tries to make each of his bars feel different, in reality it kind of feels like walking into an IKEA catalogue. As far as I’m concerned, they were much more interesting with beer stained carpets.
Industrial steels, reclaimed timber floors, pendant lights and a refined colour scheme, the place had a particularly distinct character that made it look, well… really, really cool. Don't get me wrong; it wasn’t the sort of pretentious high-design venue with expensive drinks and uncomfortable chairs. It was astonishingly stylish, incredible comfortable and considering it was sitting next to St Paul’s, the drinks were nicely priced.
This got me thinking. Over the past decade or so we seem to have seen a general cheapening of graphic design, photography, interiors and architecture as people save costs by using in-house multifaceted designers or deploy faster methods of design. Last night revealed to me that perhaps rather from being dead, good quality design is making a comeback.
People are becoming bored with the stock-standard. We’re seeing cafes like Starbucks face boycotts, we’re seeing a return to localism and place making and now, perhaps, a return to beautiful buildings and interiors.
Who’d have thought that my night of drinking not only converted me to some sort of interiors fanatic, ‘damson in distress’ drinker, but now I’m also applauding a large hospitality group… At the end of the day, it’s important to give credit, where credit is due.
Good design doesn't need to be expensive; it just needs to be holistic and thoughtful. Will other venues follow the lead? Will good quality design making a comeback?
I, for one, truly hope so.