I am a designer, which means that I approach the world with eyes that notice what others might not see, and inherently seek out art and culture wherever I go.
I also, unwittingly, often feel the need to art direct.
So I was having lunch at Aamanns in Copenhagen. It is a charming little restaurant on Øster Farimagsgade.
Effortlessly sophisticated in design, the restaurant features Arne Jacobsen chairs, glossy black woodwork, graphic wall stencils, Royal Copenhagen china, and the most beautiful, and delicious, Danish smørrebrød in town…but that’s not what this story is about.
The young chef and owner, Adam Aamanns, was being interviewed and photographed for a publication while I was eating my lunch. I tried not to, but I watched the photographer painstakingly shoot a platter of smørrebrød (open-face sandwiches), in glaring artificial light, and from an awkward angle. With every ounce of restraint I could muster, I stopped myself from showing him the photo I had just taken of the same food; from directly above, and in daylight.
I forced myself to look out the window, and not look at the very young colleague of the photographer (could he be the art director??) who was happily approving the bad shots.
I tried not to look at the shots on the back of the photographer’s camera that were just close enough for me to see.
I took pictures of the salt and pepper on the table to distract myself.
Then they started shooting the chef. He was sitting in a chair, flat up against the wall, sweating…and with an out-of-place lock of hair hanging directly down the center of his forehead.
That was all I could take.
I discreetly flagged down the woman that was conducting the interview and pointed out the hair. (I couldn’t possibly address the sweating and the wall situation…but the least I could do was make them fix the hair.) When she asked for my approval after the hair was in place, I was mortified…her crew must have wondered who the heck I was and what I was doing butting into their photo shoot. To add insult to injury, the photographer took so long that the hair fell back onto the chef’s forehead.
I kept my mouth shut and took a picture of my dessert.
This is the innate plight of being a designer who is also a perfectionist. I just want to see things the way I think they should look.
At Rosenborg Slot, the magnificent castle of Denmark’s Christian IV and the current home for the history of the Danish monarchs and the crown jewels, I was driven mad by the illogical placement of the potted shrubs alongside the palace. I did wonder about moving them, (they could have at least lined them up with the windows) but I resisted the urge and photographed them in all their asymmetrical glory.
Can this bride and groom in Budapest please move away from the car? Not to mention stand a little closer together? I think even the peculiar onlooker agreed with me.
Last, but certainly not least, was the hotel room in Italy that overlooked glorious Lake Como. What designer could have possibly thought it was a good idea to combine multiple patterns in different materials in a setting like that?
Alternatively, there are extraordinary circumstances that I encounter, flawless vignettes, that I call “style moments.”
No art direction required.
Georgian house in Ireland
House in Italy
Øster Farimagsgade 12
13 Laight Street
New York, NY