Decor that builds the ambience

Food culture

It is the same makhani paneer and tandoori chicken that finds space in the menus of almost every restaurant in the city. Yet the experience to relish the same dishes at each one of them is different. The reason is not just the expertise of the chef but also the ambience that the place builds. The interior décor of the restaurant plays a major part in this.

One cannot deny that the food industry in the Capital is expanding on account of new restaurants coming up every now and then. The numbers might be staggering but what excites is the fact that most of the interior designers who do the décor are given a brief to present “Indian food in a new light”.

“When we did the interiors for Farzi Café in Gurgaon, we drew our inspiration from a Parisian Bistro since the food is presented with a fusion,” says Saheba Singh from This Is It Designs. Her company has done the interiors for a number of restaurants in the city including The Townhouse Cafe in Connaught Place, Zai in Greater Kailash II and Out Of The Box (OTB) in Hauz Khas Village. 

Singh informs that she had to do certain woodwork for The Townhouse Cafe herself due to the intricacy involved in design. “The theme of the place is ‘Gothic’ so even the lighting had to be done in a way that the source is hidden,” adds Singh.

The theme could change but the brief for the design agencies remains close to the food that the restaurant serves in order to face competition in a place like Delhi. An example would be the theme of ‘Nostalgia’ created at Desi Roots in Saket. “The props, details, every element is selected keeping in mind the theme,” says Saurav Roy from Idea Spice – company that did the interiors for the restaurant. 

Based in Mumbai, Roy informs about not just the aspirations of restaurateurs in the Capital but also compares the likes and dislikes of Delhi vis a vis Mumbai. “For instance, when we did Desi Roots, it was our idea to present khichdi in a pressure cooker. Similarly, the installation created with locks in a wire mesh develops a connection of the guests with the place, more than the transactional aspect.”

“In Mumbai though, there is a large variety of both people and cuisines such as in Delhi, the quantum of the latter’s ability to experiment with food is quite high,” comments Roy making a Delhiite feel proud of the food culture of the city.

In addition, there are also few restaurants here who demarcate different areas for different purposes. “We were given the name ‘Pamphilos’ which literally means ‘friends of all’ with the brief to create an ambience real to the meaning – a place to hang out, meet and make friends,” says Shirin Kaur, interior designer for Pamphilos Kitchen & Bar in Greater Kailash I. 

The shell of this restaurant is more or less raw with concrete, brick, raw wood and plain old white paint. Yet its décor impresses and makes one ask the designer about the inspiration. “We wanted to create a spot for everyone to relate to. We had two floors to begin with. Now, think about a café transcending into a lounge as the sun sets. That’s how we began. 

We had the second floor turn into a day bar,” explains Kaur. 

Even Singh informs about the need for closed, as well as open seating that needs to be created for restaurants in Delhi. She says, “I was at Penthouse in GK I yesterday and saw people didn’t mind sitting on the terrace even in the month of June!” Blame it on the different seasons of the city that challenge interior decorators but do glance at the toilets that are designed in an equally interesting manner when you go to a restaurant the next time.   

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