The internet is a wonderful thing. You’re probably using it right now, unless you’re our moms and have printed out our whole blog to read at your leisure over your morning coffee (hi Cindi and Sophie!). One downside of the internet, however, is that tastes and trends take on a global sameness. And while we’re definitely guilty of opting to stay in the spare, Danish modern-style hotel instead of the traditionally appointed guesthouse, there is something depressing about landing in Northern Thailand and finding yourself drinking out of mason jars. It’s not that we want our Thai dining establishments to be all teak and thatch. It’s just that at this point, there’s maybe something depressing about drinking out of mason jars anywhere in the world, Midwestern county fair included.
We rely a lot on Instagram to find restaurants and bars and coffee. We follow the fashion and the tilework and the latte art. Sometimes this leads us to places that are really great (Penguin Shokudo in Ishigaki), and other times it leads us to places that look really great on Instagram. This is how we ended up at Rustic & Blue in Chiang Mai, whose back garden is the site of an acute hemorrhage by Kylie from Utah’s Pinterest board. It’s all there—the teepees, the pinecones, the burlap, the grandma teacups, the hay bales, the fruit crates, the birdcages, the mismatched chairs… It’s the type of place that is made to be photographed.
Indeed, there was definitely the sense that Rustic & Blue’s patrons—young local Thais, some Chinese tourists, and Euro ex-pats—were there mainly to take photographs of themselves at Rustic & Blue. Is this what “country chic design” looks like now regardless of what country you actually live in? Are teepees the new Malm bed? Or is Rustic & Blue the equivalent of what Tao was in the early aughts, except here Americana is being exoticized instead of the Orient? If so, it’s unfortunate that Americans now own this tweeness as an export and that Portlandia sketches haven’t put it all to rest just yet.