“In Western architecture, modernism was about breaking with the past. Rich Roman moldings, dramatic Greek columns, and ornate Renaissance ceilings were replaced by hard lines, exposed structural elements, unadorned windows, and so on. This was not the modernism of Habesha’s owner and designer. For them, a change in location (an American city instead of an African one) and technologies or materials did not mean a change in the themes or motifs of old. The past entered the new by way of menus designed with computers. Bojia’s work is on this tip. For example, the Queen Sheba sign he worked on with other artists is original (there is no rusted iron tradition in Ethiopia), but it represents something traditional (a wedding-size cooking pot).

Finally, this branch of modernism is cosmopolitan in the sense that it’s tasteful and professional. There is no half-stepping with the new school of restaurateurs.”

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