1-oak-b image courtesy of Wallpaper magazine

I haven't visited the cooler-than-thou new establishment 1 Oak that opened in Chelsea, Manhattan, last January) but if I were to make it past the hip screening at the door, I think I'd head straight over to leather booths and check out the rather cool, golden type wall treatments. Designed by Roy Nachum (who designed Justin Timberlake's restaurant Southern Hospitality) one can't help but see possible inspiration (if you're a graphic designer anyway) in the amazing, but 'almost' forgotten 1966 "Gastrotypographicalassemblage" by American design legend Lou Dorfsman, with (the other legend) Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase.

Image courtesy of the AIGA

The "Gastrotypographicalassemblage", a 35 foot long, 3D relief of words related to food, ingredients and recipies, which adorned the walls of the CBS Building cafeteria since 1966, was torn down, tossed aside, and almost lost forever in the early 90s. If it weren't for the efforts of designer Nick Fasciano, and ID magazine writer Eve Kahn, it would have been gone for good.

Thankfully its 9 panels were recovered are now going through a careful restoration. There is an article about the restoration on the AIGA website American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), and for a passionate overview of the roots of the "Gastrotypographicalassemblage", some great additional images, and an explanation of how this American design artifact was only barely saved from the dump, please read "The Wall that Lou Dorfsman Built" by Jim Schachterle.

Dorfsman with his completed Gastrotypographicalassemblage and an early sketch.

Interestingly, many of the comments that follow the article seem to unanimously agree that this design icon was torn down in the 90's because it was dated and no longer something that citizens of the 2000s could appreciate. I have to laugh, considering that inside 1 Oak, the new it-spot in NYC, amid its cutting edge design, behind the oblivious, hipper-than-thou crowd, sipping $18 martinis, stands a wall treatment that is, without a doubt, the design grandchild of the Gastrotypographicalassemblage, born for today's sensibilities perhaps, but arguably in a more superficial, less imaginative and witty way. Well, long live 3D type as wall decoration!

3D letters in my office, salvaged from an old shop sign.