Great Britain has never had a reputation for great food—it is, after all, the nation where a dish called mushy peas is purportedly a good thing. But designer-cum-restaurantentrepreneur Patrick ClaytonMalone says British cuisine has rebounded from its maligned reputation. A renewed national interest in supporting local farms has introduced color and freshness to traditional dishes. At Canteen, the restaurant Clayton-Malone founded in 2005 with Dominic Lake and Cass Titcombe, the focus on simplicity and quality extends beyond food to the eatery’s design itself. “It was important to create a space that reflected our values—democratic, honest, British,” he says. Iconic modern buildings like the brutalist Royal Festival Hall, where the second Canteen opened in 2007 (the first opened at Spitalfields in 2005), were a source of inspiration, as was the London-based design company Isokon, whose work peaked in the 1930s under the direction of several Bauhaus legends. “Although not financially successful in their

time, they were trailblazers,” Clayton-Malone says of Isokon. “Their ethos was to create great design but not be exclusive. Everything they produced had real integrity and design longevity.” In 2008, Clayton-Malone launched a design studio, Very Good & Proper, to produce custom furniture and accessories for Canteen. Their first commission, the Canteen table, was developed with designers André Klauser and Ed Carpenter for the third Canteen location on Baker Street, which opened in late 2008. The birch-ply four-top on cast aluminum legs was designed to be costefficient, timeless, and durable. London-based retailer twentytwentyone sells the Canteen table and will carry future VG&P designs. They also supplied lighting and seating for the Baker Street location, where bright colors and warm oak create a welcome place to linger. Londoners can come in early for potted duck or piccalilli and stay late for treacle tart. While it may still be hard to find a hot buttered Arbroath smokie across the pond, Canteen is doing its part to put a fresh face on Her Majesty’s gastronomy. Great Biting Bangers and mash: sausage and mashed potatoes Bubble and squeak: leftover cooked veggies and meat pan-fried with mashed potatoes Cornish pasties: handheld savory pies, usually filled with meat and potatoes Knickerbocker glory: ice-cream sundae in a milkshake glass Piccalilli: chutneylike condiment made of chopped vegetables Pork scratchings: pork rinds made from salted pig skin Singing hinnies: flour, milk, and lard blended into dough and griddle-fried like pancakes Spotted dick: steamed suet pudding containing dried fruit Toad-in-the-hole: row of sausages baked in Yorkshire pudding batter

Architects’ Websites
I’m on a deadline, I need a fact, and once again my computer has frozen up, overwhelmed by the high-intensity graphics and animated introduction of yet another gloriously beautiful and utterly useless architecture website. My needs are simple: I want to know, for example, the floor space of a new building and whether it’s LEED certified, or the exact name of the client. These aren’t hard questions, and it doesn’t seem worth troubling the firm’s office staff with a phone call. This should all be on the web, right? Not always. And even when you can find the facts you need, it’s often after a maddening tour through the Flash-fired fantasies of a web designer who approaches the presentation of actual information rather like a bloviating after-dinner speaker clearing his throat for 20 minutes. Take the website of Zaha Hadid. First, there is an introductory page, in which a ghostlike rendering of the famous Iraqi-born architect is seen as if through wind-rustled vertical blinds. This entry page leads to yet another, where parallel bands of delicate white lines trace out an aimless but appealing pattern of interconnected ribbons. These sleek and flowing designs recall the lines of her signature projects: the space-age ski jump in Innsbruck or the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. But where is the information? Only to be discovered by passing your cursor over patterns until the categories—Projects, Publications, Gallery, Studio—emerge. But you can’t actually get to the gallery by clicking on the word “gallery.” That would be too easy. And once you get to the gallery, you find a spectral presentation of hard-to-decipher images floating promiscuously free of the

—Philip Kennicott

Square Meal
42 June 2009
p042_DWQ0609.pdf April 17, 2009 - 09:09:21

The Argument

Photo by Steve Theodorou (exterior)

text links. This is a website that treats you like Zen master confronting a dull-witted acolyte: There are no answers, little rabbit, only questions. It seems that the bigger and more adventurous the firm, the more Byzantine the website. You might think that a profession that has always been prickly about accusations of megalomania would be a little less megalomaniacal in its approach to the web. Only Hollywood movie websites are as complicated, and perhaps there’s a connection. Architects fret about the static nature of their work. They crave the ability to control the experience of a building in a flowing, dynamic, narrative way. You enter here, see this, feel that, and move on to this room, where you feel something else. It’s astonishing in public presentations of new projects, especially those involving memorial architecture or public space, how much effort has gone into anticipating and controlling the serial experience of moving about in the new building. That effort, of course, is all for naught, because people rarely follow the maps and plans laid out for them. But not on the web. Here, all is perfect order and control. It is a proxy world for ambitions that are thwarted in the real one. One beautiful screen follows another, just like one room follows another. Unless, of course, I’m using my ancient laptop, which crashed when I clicked on “Skip Intro.”