Over the last couple weeks I have had the opportunity to go to brunch, dinner, and drinks at Pearl Dive, a new restaurant/bar on 14th street. While the food is really delicious and the location is really great for meeting friends for drinks, I find the interior to be uninspiring. How come everything is beginning to look the same? Every restaurant, especially on 14th has the same design aesthetic. You have your exposed brick walls, your wood top tables that everyone claims is made out of recycled materials, some wood flooring out of some recycled material, some school house chairs, and some leather booths. Of course there has to be something odd hanging from the ceiling. At Pearl Dive it’s a large piece of metal chain that makes an undulating sculpture over the main bar. But, the problem is that if you blindfolded me and dropped me off at Café Saint Ex, The Heights, Taylor’s Gourmet, Cork Wine Bar, Ted Bulletins, Red Rock Pizzeria, or numerous other places around DC I couldn’t tell you where I was. There is very little distinction between all these restaurants. I thought we were supposed to be in the age of individuality where nothing is in and nothing is out, it’s all about what you like. When you see the same thing over and over again it just gets boring.
Can there really be that many people designing the same thing? Well, maybe there could be…this year I was on the design committee for the DC Design House. I was pretty surprised to find the same beaded light fixture from Curry & Co. on five design boards and the same Celerie Kemble fabric on eight boards that were presented. Once again, are we all thinking the same? To be honest with you, the designers chosen for the Design House all had identical points of view. They weren’t doing what everyone else was doing. And as the spring issues of shelter magazines come in the office there is this overwhelming look that is evolving and everyone seems to be doing it – there is always a nice sofa (sort of non-committal) not traditional or modern, a scattering of French chairs, some vague modern art, and if you are really daring a Lucite coffee table. Where is the individuality in this? Have all clients become the same?…I don’t think so!