Peter York: The way we live now

Very fine dining
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The Independent Online

What's the point of a dining room if you eat out all the time, normally eat off a tray in front of the TV or if, as so many advanced hostesses now declare, you like to talk to your guests as you cook? If the whole cooking thing is such a modern, eclectic why-not sort of process - downright creative - rather than slogging to a formula, your guests might want to be interactive, participative and involved, and that's easier if you're all in the same room, stirring up dynamic behaviour.

Dining rooms, on the other hand, obviously mark the subjugation of women, or servants. They make you take what you're given with no opportunity to debate it, think about its ecological or Fairtrade consequences and get in some flexible responsive and thoughtful changes (choosing Norfolk samphire instead of Kenyan beans, say). Dining rooms are, you see, thoroughly bourgeois and deeply unfashionable. You don't get the same creative energy invested in dining-room furniture that designers are putting into new sectional sofas or limestone baths. And look at the people who like dining-rooms - obviously elitist and reactionary to a man.

Like carpets and curtains, dining rooms seem doomed. There are apparently rational arguments against them - most people don't use that expensive space much - as well as all those emotional ones too. All of which means that dining rooms are absolutely dead set up for a revival. When every lame-brain is parroting the conventional wisdom, the fashionable Awkward Squad are moving in the opposite direction. And now the country - London especially - is chock-full of rich people who don't want to be doing with the Fulham informal-makeover look thank you. Which means that dining-room ideas are being dreamt up for Bonus Boys, Oligarchs and Timbuktu tycoons even as we speak. Younger people are looking at the ancient Sloane format - Burnt Sienna walls, close-hung prints, a cavalcade of Georgian silver and hunting-print table mats - in a re-appraising way. Not for the food - we know it was terrible - but for the cosy, dedicated fug of it and the moral delinquency.

How could you simplify the trad dining room or Post-Modernise it? You could make it darker. You could make every surface as textury as possible and close-hang Testino stunnas. It could look like the bar at Sketch. Got the picture? The room pictured here (in the home that once belonged to Lord Archer) isn't that: it's the last decade's precedent of a brilliant Nineties power-dining look, a bit of New York Master of the Universe glamour (in London) with a spectacular view. It's show-off stuff no question. And hardly leading-edge. But seriously stylish all the same. This has to belong to the Man Who Sold The World.

Fittingly, this is a Serious Painting. Historically, dining rooms are bourgeois, through and through

Ultra-luxy bespoke button-backed dining chairs in a blonde and black-inlaid Neo-Classical style. More show off than cutting edge

Old gilt-wood console table with gilt-wood eagle on it. This says 'macho money' in no uncertain terms

Rusticated wall-panelling effect emphasises the Imperial Mood. This is power dining

William Kent-ish giant glass emphasises the double-height room. Rich people don't worry about using every cubic foot of their house every minute

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