You’ve probably tried their cheesecakes or even been to one of their restaurants, but have you ever
considered the architecture? Inside and out, the 40-year
old restaurant chain is like an architect’s
surreal, dystopian fever dream, these enormous columns are a page out of ancient Greece’s playbook, this doorway mimics a Roman arch, this tendril detailing
is wannabe art nouveau, while these lamps just scream art deco. It’s wild, it’s bizarre and
it’s all pure postmodernism. As this viral Tweet explains, “The Cheesecake Factory
is a fully immersive, “postmodern design hellscape,” in other words, Cheesecake
Factory architecture is as hodgepodge as the 20-page Cheesecake
Factory menu itself. So how did it get this way? It all started with founder,
David Overton’s dream to create a timeless restaurant. Overton mined things he liked from all of architectural history and Frankensteined them together. (explosive booming) (light melodic music) Overton founded The Cheesecake Factory in Beverly Hills in 1978, his first outpost looked
tame, compared to today. Overton discovered a
photograph of an old bathhouse with faux Egyptian columns, he wanted them in his restaurants too. Little did Overton know that his vision would lead to one of the
most ubiquitous examples of one of the most
maligned and misunderstood design movements of the
20th century, postmodernism. Postmodernism, like its name
says, came after modernism, the style began percolating in the 1960s and then became a full
architectural movement in the 1980s. While modernists celebrated streamlined and functional design, postmodernists rallied for richer designs, that embodied regional history
and vernacular influences, in other words, postmodernists
cut and paste from the past to forge designs for the future, they believed modernism
was elitist and alienating, so they drove for popular appeal and erased any distinction
between high and lowbrow design, kind of like The Cheesecake Factory. Famous architects supposedly
linked to the style did the same remixing,
but with more restraint. This children’s museum in Houston is a dead ringer for a Greek temple, this Disney World hotel owes its silhouette to Egyptian pyramids and this New York City skyscraper nods to Chippendale furniture. Modernism was a black
and white silent film to postmodernism’s Technicolor,
Surround Sound blockbuster. (exploding fire) David Overton was on a
mission of mass appeal on every level, even the menu. With over 250 items, the menu is like a twisted
Greatest Hits compilation, similar to its restaurant design. So next time you’re at
The Cheesecake Factory, you can get a side of
architectural history along with your dessert. (light melodic music)