When Sandeep Khosla and Amaresh Anand of Khosla Associates were approached to create a restaurant and bar in what used to be the 8200 sq ft warehouse for a newspaper - located, however, in prime real estate in Bengaluru - they were quite taken aback.
“We were cognisant of the contextual reference, since this building was in the vicinity of the High Court of Karnataka, an imposing red building. So we didn’t want to just slap things together thoughtlessly,” says Sandeep. The duo instantly decided that their design for the space should echo the Art Deco influence of this building and recall the bygone era evoked by the arched colonnade which wraps itself around the structure. Accordingly, they created vaults, arches and a colonnade around this structure, integrating it into the existing fenestrations on the street level.
Within, the palette of materials is clearly local. Red and green oxides as well as granite cover various surfaces within the free standing vaults, which define different spaces within the structure. Two curved screens at the entrance made of ribbed timber juxtaposed with brass, flank the walkway into the restaurant, creating an intimate entrance foyer. They also assist in creating zones in the layout, functioning as a device to create different bays of seating - thus effectively dividing the large space.
Irregular cut-outs within them, some in an organic, fluid shape, offer glimpses into the larger space beyond as one walks past. “These shapes have been inspired by Corbusier’s paintings from the 1930s, representing the influence of the Modernist movements,” says Sandeep. An imposing custom chandelier takes inspiration from the branches of a tree bearing fruit, handcrafted with mild steel pipes ending in rings of amber coloured resin.
The furniture is a mix of fixed booth style seating, low and high restaurant tables and low sofas for lounging. The colour scheme of a deep red, peacock green, blue and olive complement the green and red oxides of the shell. The use of colour is bold and deliberate. “We could afford the exuberance because of the sheer size of the space,” says Sandeep.
“A distinctive feature that we introduced into the interior space was the series of lofty freestanding cement arches. These arches, positioned between the existing grids, create visual movement and fluidity in the space while reinforcing its vault and arch vocabulary. The arches have LED light integrated within them, capturing and framing the energy encompassed within,” says Amaresh.
The walls have a corrugated surface crafted in concrete and cast on site. Coloured with green oxide pigment, they offer a dramatic contrast to the black and white flooring. Columns have been clad in sheets of mild steel and then lacquered.
During the day, the restaurant is a calm, casual dining space for office goers in the vicinity as well as families. Suffused with comfortable natural light from the tall windows, no artificial light is required during the day.
At night and weekends, however, it metamorphoses into a high voltage stomping ground for the hip crowd of the city, replete with music, bands, DJs and performances. “The high energy levels are almost palpable and LED lights transform the space,” says Sandeep. “The tables get moved out and the crowd surges to 300 people. The food, cocktails, music and ambience are a heady combination.”
The aesthetic in this restaurant is a contemporary take on an Art Deco time warp, its sensibilities rooted in times gone by. “Our design recalls an era when people cared about the dining experience,” says Sandeep.
Celebrating the past, this design combines all the conveniences of the present, enriched by its thoughtful take on colour, pattern and architectural detailing. The resultant offering may be visually complex but is an extravaganza all the same.