|This past weekend I attended a wedding at the Palace Hotel in New York. The hotel, build about 25 years ago stands behind the Villard Houses, two neo-Renaissance mansions built in 1882. When the hotel was built there was a move to demolish the houses but preservationist won and buildings were incorporated into the hotel high rise. It has proved to be a great business decision and the hotel hosts events and has a bar in part of the space, which is one of the most spectacular interiors in New York City. |
From a woodworking perspective it's important to understand several things - that craft and decoration pays off. Without preserving and adapting these rooms to modern usage, the hotel would be one more nondescript business in the city. With preservation they have a competitive edge.
Unlike museum quality work, when you look closely at the carvings, which are opulent and wonderful, you might notice that the gold carvings on first floor are fancier and better executed than the carvings on the second floor. This is an important lesson - most people won't notice, and unlike a few random stellar examples in a museum, the practical exercise of creating a house full of decorations means compromise. I wonder if there are any architects up to the task of designing and orchestrating a neo-Renaissance interior with all the carvings. I bet with CNC for the bulk work, some nice detailed handwork and some cleverness it could look great and be cost effective.
Finally, for all that designers say that older crafts are dead, and people these days want modern looking furniture of glass and steel - it isn't true. If it was true the "Gold Rooms" as they are called, wouldn't be popular. But they are! A lot of the appeal of many of the bars and restaurants in New York are their classic interiors. So the real issue isn't "should a new project be modern or antique?", the real question is how to create a "craft heavy" interior on a reasonable budget.
Incidentally the UN was having a big meeting at the time and the hotel was host to several high level delegations. For the first time going to a wedding I had to pass through security and there were secret service and swat team members all over the place looking me over.
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