One of the premiere architectural embodiments of Pop art, a creative movement that came to define the 1950s and 60s, was Robert Venturi’s renovation of ‘Grand’s Restaurant’ in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Previously known as ‘Mom’s Restaurant’, the university campus eatery was renovated by Venturi and William Short in 1962.
Akin to Pop art’s focus on commonplace subject matter and an esteemed aptitude towards twisting convention, Venturi and Short utilized ordinary, industrial materials in an unconventional manner, giving these everyday elements entirely new purpose and meaning. This idiosyncratic technique was employed in their use of industrial lights, exposed air conditioning ducts and banal bentwood chairs. The duo’s overtly basic approach to furnishing the space was a direct reaction to the over-designed interiors of the time.
Loud graphics covered the eatery’s main wall, spelling out ‘Grand’s Restaurant,’ painted to look as though the letters were rendered by use of a conventional stencil. These graphics were reflected in a mirror on the opposite side of the room, engulfing the dining space in geometric type. The restaurant opened in 1963 and was almost immediately redecorated by the owners in 1964, a spirited example of an interior being significantly ahead of its time.