I could be anywhere (Lisboa)

Time Out Market occupies about half of the old Mercado da Rebeira.


It's a crowded, popular food court with a central shared eating area surrounded by food stalls serving food on trays. 


Everything is uniformly branded with Time Out's black & white identity. 


It calls itself the best of Lisboa, because "everything in a time out market is chosen, tasted (and tested) by an independent panel of experts: Time Out's journalists and critics. It's a simple rule: if it's good it goes in the magazine. If it's great it goes on to the Market." The space design feels like a fine line between magazine and market.


To me this raises troubling questions, especially about travelers and designed environments. Do they come here to enjoy good Portuguese food because it's been curated? Or do they come because it's a safe place to get predictable service, without the awkwardness of language barriers or quirky restaurant experiences?


Along the outer corridor: some upscale counter stalls.


Upstairs: Time Out Restaurant, and office space.


Along the inside corridor, between Time Out and the regular market: some stalls feel like hybrids.


The regular market with it's few remaining side stalls was closed when I was there. The two environments seem separate from each other. Or protected from each other?


Am I in a travel magazine or a real world destination? Sometimes the tension between design and "authenticity" is palpable. "Realness" is often associated with aesthetic chaos, and uncomfortable surprises.  Designed environments like this reinforce an expectation for controlled ease. At worst, they can be a soulless buffer from the real world. A time out. From the real world. Wherever you are.