Postmodern Cafe

Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
17 Sep 2011

“To complement the V&A’s keynote exhibition Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-90, the London Design Festival invites you to a Postmodern Café 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.”

— London Design Festival

Aston Webb, Victoria and Albert Museum's Exhibition Road screen, London, 1909. Photography by Antonino Cardillo, 2011.

Aston Webb, Victoria and Albert Museum’s Exhibition Road screen, [demolished in 2014], London, 1909. Photography by Antonino Cardillo.

Antonino Cardillo, Postmodern Cafe, V&A Museum, London, 2011.

Mies + Venturi. Modern in plan and ‘post’ in elevation, Postmodern Cafe is a divertissement, a quest between 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 archetypal themes of Tympanum and Arc: the first – seen from Exhibition Road – features two contrapositive triangles in a Suprematistic broken tympanum. The second – diagonally perceived from the gate of the V&A – paints a stretched arc framing a shard of the neoclassical wall behind, counterpointing two existing enlarged columns.

Urban baroque strategy. Two ephemeral façades fluctuate across the V&A’s 1970s Exhibition Road hall, capturing glances as in a baroque strategy.

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, V&A Museum, London, 2011.

Time: Ago-Sep 2011
Place: V&A Museum, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London, UK
Area: 250 m²

Client: London Design Festival (via Suzanne Trocmé)
Director: Ben Evans
Deputy Director: William Knight
Consultant Curator: Suzanne Trocmé
Head of LDF at the V&A: Victoria Broackes
Architect: Antonino Cardillo
Text: Antonino Cardillo
English translator: Charles Searson
Photography: Antonino Cardillo
Vector graphics: Antonino Cardillo

Interviewed by Ralf Broekman and Olaf Winkler, build Das Architekten-Magazin, no.5/11, Wuppertal, Oct 2011.

The London Design Festival 2011 Guide, London, Sep 2011., London, Victoria & Albert Museum, retrivied 26 Aug 2011., London, retrivied 26 Aug 2011.