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I lunched at a most unlikely spot earlier this week: the Athenaeum. The small number of other gentlemens' clubs I've been in share a shabby and intransigent atmosphere; more than a whiff of dwindling significance, and with it elegance. But on Wednesday my steps echoed in a place of such confidence and classicism, and in such fresh nick, that I feel compelled to describe it. The height and breadth of every room; the polished surfaces and rich depths to which grand staircases beckon.  At the interstice of Pall Mall, Waterloo Place and Carlton Gardens, it occupies a glorious east-facing position yielding windows on no fewer than three sides. Enormous windows with gleaming panes of ancient irregular glass.

I lunched at a most unlikely spot earlier this week: the Athenaeum. The small number of other gentlemens' clubs I've been in share a shabby and intransigent atmosphere; more than a whiff of dwindling significance, and with it elegance. But on Wednesday my steps echoed in a place of such confidence and classicism, and in such fresh nick, that I feel compelled to describe it. The height and breadth of every room; the polished surfaces and rich depths to which grand staircases beckon.  At the interstice of Pall Mall, Waterloo Place and Carlton Gardens, it occupies a glorious east-facing position yielding windows on no fewer than three sides. Enormous windows with gleaming panes of ancient irregular glass.

I think it was the 2007 Milan Furniture Fair when gigantism was all the rage - the absurdly overscaled bibelots of Marcel Wanders and Jaime Hayon. But in the Athenaeum you really are like the shrunk Alice in Wonderland. The buttoned-leather entrance hall benches are like day-beds, bigger even. A varnished lectern bears whole broadsheets, spreadeagled. The magnificent doors of the first floor drawing room have quite the awesome scale of a Greek temple. This room, about the size of the Buckingham Palace Picture Gallery I'd say (see my last post), was occupied by fewer than a dozen lucky post-prandial coffee drinkers.

And what a difference from the latter dowdy place where all the indeterminate, dusky pink flock and gilding and temperate lighting do their very level best to deaden the happy shock of a Van Dyck, a Rembrandt, a Constable, a Turner and a Vermeer everywhere you turn.

Whatever you think of gentlemen's clubs (I seldom do), it's worth contriving a means of entry. My host was actually a woman.

At the RIBA Stirling Prize dinner on Saturday night a very successful engineer told me that scientists and engineers were the people who really understood how the world worked. I violently demurred, for surely language is an equally significant means of construing it? A position between science and thought-construed-as-language is, I think, worth claiming for design.

Meanwhile Design Week roots for near-forgotten textile designer Jacqueline Groag in a review of a new monograph; and the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull celebrates Shirley Craven and Hull Traders, similarly hid from view in our meretricious modern reckoning of what really matters and will move us forward. In the Vienna Design Week conference on Arts & Crafts earlier this month, I asked about the decline of single craft disciplines in universities, courses like textiles and ceramics (the real victim). Is it because they’re not discursive; somehow intractable to social and theoretical extrapolation? Whatever the reason, Lesley Jackson's catalogue vibrates with ravishing and bold designs, and prompts me to wonder what these printers and weavers know about how the world works? Thought-construed-as-drawing, pattern and colour?

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