Postmodern Cafe

Victoria & Albert Museum
London, 26 Aug. 2011

Mies + Venturi. Modern in plan and ‘post’ in elevation, Postmodern Cafe is a divertissement, a quest between Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Robert Venturi.

Archetypes. Like huge frescoes, the façades recall the Pre-Modern bond between painting and architecture. Vinyl graffiti refigure themes of Tympanum and Arch: two contrapositive triangles in a Suprematistic broken tympanum and a stretched arc framing a shard of the neoclassical wall behind.

Urban baroque strategy. The façades capture glances across the V&A’s 1970s Exhibition Road hall.

Symmetry and negation. Although symmetrical, they are perceived from diagonal points of view. The front view seems to be denied by the pathway.

Inflection. On the walls, figures converge toward the centre. Though symmetrical overall, each side is unequal.

Stripes. Crossing the space, there are stripes everywhere, evoking ephemeral structure on a shoreline and retroactive presages close to Giò Ponti and Postmodernism: Art is fluid. Although categorized, it escapes boundaries.

Antonino Cardillo, Postmodern Cafe, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, Exhibition Road, 2011.

Antonino Cardillo, Postmodern Cafe, Victoria & Albert Museum, Exhibition Road, London, 2011.

Aston Webb, Exhibition Road Screen, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1909. Photography: Antonino Cardillo, 2011.

Aston Webb, Exhibition Road Screen, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1909, demolished in 2014. Photography: Antonino Cardillo, 2011.

The logo of the Postmodern Cafe, London, 2011. Graphic design: Antonino Cardillo.

The logo of the Postmodern Cafe, London, 2011.
Graphic design: Antonino Cardillo.

To complement the V&A’s keynote exhibition Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970–90, the London Design Festival invites you to a Postmodern Cafe at the V&A’s Exhibition Road entrance. Designed by Italian architect Antonino Cardillo, the cafe references many of the style’s Italian design roots, and includes items by Alessi, one of the movement’s early champions. V&A visitors and Festival guests are invited to meet, eat, lounge and revel.

The London Design Festival 2011, London, Sept. 2011, p. 43.