When contrast is so great that it challenges our assumptions, you’ve got the makings of a good story.
So it is in The Huffington Post article, “McDonald’s Gets Modern European-Style Makeover in NYC.”
Is there a restaurant interior more dreary than the classic McDonald’s? Clearly, the original objective for the seating area was to make cleaning up a spilled shake or squished fries as easy as possible.
Now we learn that McDonald’s plans to remake its look in a quest for hipness:
The eatery is outfitted with outlets for plugging in laptops, upholstered vinyl chairs instead of Fiberglas seats bolted to the floor, subdued lighting and employees whose all-black uniforms suggest a hip boutique.
I can’t believe they’re doing away with the fiberglass seats.
It was almost a rite of passage for every kid to misbehave in McDonald’s, inevitably fall off the chair and get conked on the head as a reminder from the karma gods to listen to their mom.
To show the lengths McDonald’s is going to to be hip or, dare we say, avant garde, the walls are decorated with a design based on French architect Philippe Avanzi’s magnified thumbprint.
Very shrewd decision to use a French architect. To borrow an architect’s thumb from Turkey or Indonesia just doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi.
The redesigned McDonald’s features “reproductions of Danish designer Arne Jacobsen’s chairs including the Egg chair, a classic of mid-century functionality that would look right at home on The Jetsons.”
I wish I had paid more attention in art history. Aside from The Jetsons, I’m not exactly sure what that means.
But here’s where the story adds a twist of friction thanks to some fine investigative reporting.
When McDonald’s first hired Avanzi in 2006 to help redesign its European outlets, Avanzi brought in Danish furniture producer Fritz Hansen to supply authentic Jacobsen chairs.
But Hansen, the sole licensed manufacturer of Jacobsen chairs, ended the partnership because McDonald’s was also buying unauthorized copies.
I’m not convinced the PR person’s retort takes the sting out of this accusation:
Proud said the chairs at the New York store are “modeled after” Jacobsen’s designs.
Let me get this straight.
McDonald’s was getting a better price for the Jacobsen chairs on the gray market which caused the Danish furniture guy to cut off McDonald’s official supply. So McDonald’s now buys a knock-off version that only the chair cognoscenti can tell the difference.
I smell a made-for-TV script.
P.S. I’ve snagged the photos of redesigned McDonald’s locations in France and Italy from the French (what can I say) post “McDonald’s à la sauce design.” They actually look pretty good.