Hotel helter skelter

The design problem with the new Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville is obvious right from the forecourt. In the middle is a four-tiered fountain that could come from the Renaissance, the pad uses a mosaic of stone inspired by a Persian rug, and the glass canopy over the entrance has a floral pattern reminiscent of a nineteenth-century textile by William Morris. It’s as if they weren’t sure what to do so they did everything.

The hodge-podge continues inside. A minuscule hotel lobby that could seat a dozen gives onto a room containing only a sculptural dandelion. The front desk is almost invisible in an alcove. The next room is even more empty with the concierge discreetly in an antechamber behind a desk of Indian indigo tiger-eye marble, another of the one-offs with no tie to anything else. Vertical metal work looks like Spanish wrought iron gates.

Cafe Boulud, the chichi restaurant on the second floor, continues the helter-skelter design. To the left, tables, chairs and the banquette are in dark wood and black leather. In the middle of the room, the tables are glass-topped and sit on shiny metal pedestals. Elsewhere the seating includes fabric couches and camel-coloured leather. A communal table has been cut from a tree trunk. The flooring is quarried dark stone, the walls could be from sun-washed pueblos in the southwest. The paintings are by Mr. Brainwash, a street pop artist from Los Angeles who appears to have studied Andy Warhol and no one else. There is no flow.

Rosalie Sharp, an alumna of the Ontario College of Art and wife of Four Seasons founder Isadore Sharp, had a role in the interior design of the previous Four Seasons Yorkville. The new hotel’s website mentions various designers but not Ms. Sharp. I have not seen any of the hotel’s 259 guest rooms but the public spaces I did view are nowhere near as graciously done as the earlier version. Ms. Sharp’s knowing hand would have helped here. Based on the interior design, I’d call this place the Two-And-A-Half Seasons.

UPDATE: Although her name may not appear anywhere, it turns out that Cafe Boulud was, in fact, designed by Rosalie Sharp. Well, I guess everyone makes mistakes, me included. My views on how it looks, however, still stand.

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