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Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Artful Traveler: Unexpected Pleasures In Unlikely Places

Art actually is all around us.

It's in museums, of course, in plazas in front of rude public buildings and soul-crushing skyscrapers, and in the homes of well-heeled friends or business associates.

Occasionally it turns up in the least likely of places.

The Dutch chain Spar recently opened a supermarket in Budapest designed around a series of curvaceous wooden ribs that extend, not uniformly, from the ceiling to the floor so as to divide the  large space into a series of inviting, humanly scaled pods.

Curved counters are clad with similar wooden ribs for displaying wine and baked goods. Produce is displayed on curving white islands, and the forms of the checkout counters echo the same pleasing shapes.

Undulating white beams in the ceiling contrast with the warm wood and guide shoppers on one of several routes through the store – short for daily shoppers, long for those on a weekly shopping expedition.

The market opened in September in a mall in a wealthy suburb of Budapest and is the work of the local LAB5 architectural firm.

Let us hope that the Spar store is so successful that it spurs less progressive chains to think along the same lines.

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