I’ve been to Toronto a few times in the last couple months, working on some projects and making a 24-hour run just to eat dinner in a different city. Sometimes a girl needs a change of scenery. Plus it’s only four hours from Detroit, and time flies when you’re reading magazines and knitting in the passenger seat (because your husband doesn’t think you’re a good driver). It’s like being on a flight with more leg room and no strangers.
During one of those quick visits, I nabbed a last-minute room at the Gladstone. I had stayed at the Drake before, but had only admired the Gladstone’s hulking brick building from the curb of West Queen West. Inside, art exhibits and makeshift galleries descend on public spaces and hallways, and each room is decorated by a different local artist. Considering the high-octane color palettes of many of the rooms, I was tickled with my room assignment, the dialed-back (soothing even?) Chinoiserie Room by Millie Chen. Subtle and not-so-subtle chinoiserie–decorative art based on mostly European imitations of Asian motifs–is layered and juxtaposed with abandon, and even though Millie’s approach is ironic, creating a kind of “Oriental folly” (her words, not mine) and poking fun at the “postmodern condition by replacing the true elements of chinoiserie with contemporary global references,” the room is as adorable as it is clever. Especially that wallpaper with monkey leopards, Baluch tigers, women in Victorian mourning gowns, dancing tourists and monkeys with saws. It makes me want to write a haiku.