Inman Perk

Atlanta, Georgia

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As an ‘architect’ I regularly struggle with my fluctuating attention to the specificity of designed environments. I realize that every manmade condition is ‘designed,’ and so are many so-called natural settings. The way in which my attentions shift are as follows. Certain conditions exist in such a way that they trumpet the human ingenuity that wrought them, materials are used in new ways, environments are tailored toward specific atmospheric effects, furniture, colours, and fixtures are composed with the space toward a tableaux that begins to have a voice, a recognizable, if not understandable, enunciation. These are self-conscious designed conditions, and as they beckon appreciation from the world-at-large, they invite scrutiny from me.

Inman Perk

Yet, I can walk into a bank that was ‘designed’ in 1970, clad with dark wood slats, hideous bank-lobby art made from iridescent oiled copper and steel, with hardly any windows, and whatever natural light does seep in is yellowed by aged tint and shellac, and although attentive to the details, I file them more under how they make me feel, rather than their immediate motivation, perhaps because they are so far removed, in time, or in voice, like a gas station ‘designed’ by a developer and inhabited by a sloppy franchise owner. They are environments rather than personalities transformed into environments.

When I step into Inman Perk, excitedly seeking a soy latte in the newest Atlanta coffeehouse, since all my old favourites are either overrun by children or dinks, having been prepared by their webpage as to the presence of an architect in the design process, I begin peppering the space with my gaze. Lwat81 and I discuss the various design flourishes. After digesting the overall aesthetic I begin to pick at details. I greatly appreciated the dropped ceiling with warmly stained/sealed planks, it recalled to me the ceiling of my room at Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel in Baker, California with its haunting yet womblike oppressiveness. I liked the way it pressed down over the couches, which we did not sit on but which looked slightly too austere to drink coffee upon, and drew your eye across the bookshelves, which is still slightly sparse which caused the use of some ‘face-out’ displays which I did not find necessary. There were two magnificent lamps under the low ceiling which felt like a cross between a dentist lamp and something out of the above-mentioned bank. The higher portions of the ceiling were clad with a haphazard area of unfinished pine 1x6s thrown up like the logs floating in Spirit Lake beneath Mt. St. Helens. I felt that there was not enough rigor in their placement. In fact, with the warmth and clarity of expression in the rest of the joint I felt this looseness was unmistakably out of place, a different voice. If there had been some geometric logic or an illegible rule to the placement that allowed the boards to transform into a pattern to which their ‘boardness’ was subservient, I would have acquiesced. Finally, next to our table, I appreciated the way in which the mud from the new drywall construction was feathered over the existing(?) concrete block walls and then painted all a uniform colour. Kudos on that detail.

Inman Perk

With candles flickering throughout the space and festive yet balmy light radiating from the open patio, I felt cozy. The place was just empty enough, which is sure to change very soon, to give me space to perform my analysis. It is a burden to me at times, but even when I am at odds with a designer’s voice, it is at least someone who I can always chat with.


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Inman Perk

280 Elizabeth Street, Suite B-103
Atlanta, Georgia 30307
http://www.inmanperkcoffee.com

soymilk: no extra charge
wifi: free access

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CAFE TABLEAUX
is a compendium of literary, anecdotal musings on coffeeshop and cafe culture.
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