Amore Ristorante: ‘Italy – cut, copy, paste’! Architect Archana Shah has replicated the quintessence of vintage Italian décor complete with brick walls, comfy booths and an open kitchen.
As you amble by Amore Ristorante, an Italian specialty restaurant in Ahmedabad, glimpses of brick walls and charming wall décor tempt your senses. Designed by Ahmedabad based architecture firm Archana Shah & Associates, the interiors of the 2,250 square feet ground floor space is ‘tutto italiano’; right from the entrance to its dining spaces and to the kitchens inside.
The interior of Amore is not the typical classy minimalist affair, instead it is a space where the romance of the laidback 17th century Italy envelopes you. Every detail and theme that has shaped the interiors has been a response to the question, ‘if authentic food is being served, then why not an authentic feel?’ Apart from the interiors, the design team focused on the material palette, furniture and wall décor to create the desired atmosphere.
The entrance is marked by a paneled door which takes you through to a world of stained glass typically associated with Italian décor. Once inside, the first vision that greets you is that of the mocktail bar detailed in glass and wood. Handmade tiles floor the space while wooden beams line the ceiling, shedding diffused light all around.
Flooring patterns differ in the dining area which is tiled in rustic ceramic tiles, the pattern broken up to match the concept of Italian mosaic work. The space is lined with comfortable booths along the walls and has wooden chairs and tables arranged in the centre.
The walls enclosing this volume are one of architect Archana Shah’s favourite part of the restaurant and she feels the finishes echo an Italian fervor. While one wall is lined with bricks, the opposite wall is painted in dull ivory shades with hand finished textures that carry on to the exposed beams of the ceiling. The finishes of the walls contrast each other in colour and texture, and yet are synonymous with Mediterranean styles.
The two walls are adorned with decorations that are unique, eclectic and eccentric. One part has paintings and portraits of scenes depicting the life and culture of Italy, while another part has an array of cheese graters and ladles. Yet another spot is the focus of ceramic plates arranged elegantly alongside a blackboard that displays the ‘special for the day’. The accessories adorning the spaces have been handpicked by the architect herself and reflect both the siestic moments and beauty of Italy.
Italy is not just about the casual cafes and eateries but also about bakeries. To create the baker’s world in Amore, Archana Shah incorporated a wood fire pizza oven. This open interactive pizza kitchen is set against a white tiled backdrop where teak wood shelves with colourful jars and a menu blackboard recreates the homely beauty of an Italian baker’s realm.
A feature not to be missed about Amore is the clever reuse of scrap furniture. Every chair and sofa is old junk and scrap furniture salvaged and refurbished with a dash of paint, a little hammering and a huge sense of aesthetics. The door shutters too are old ones given a new lease of life with louvers, paints and coloured glass – producing an effect that is similar to the stained glass openings seen predominantly in 17th century Italian homes. According to Archana Shah, “The old as the new comes through via the scrapped furniture that is revived and set into the ambience, as if it were custom made.”
The design team felt that the interiors should focus more on the accessories and the ambience; hence the ceiling was left uncovered, the interiors devoid of paneling, wall papers or structural gilding. According to them, the best in the structure and materials would come across if left unadorned.
The positioning of lighting and fixtures has been played with to the complete advantage of the interiors of Amore. Simple suspended fixtures provide the major illumination, while spot lights complement the wall art. Subdued lighting also augments the wash-room area, a favourite spot of designer Amit Shah – here the walls are painted with vines and flowers and are full of amusing details.
The entire project is an experiment of blending ‘old and new’ to create a thematic décor that transforms a modern building into a seventeenth century restaurant using two key factors – revival of old furniture and antiques and unusual wall finishes whose rough appearance adds compositional value to the dialectic textures.
Architect Archana Shah and her team have tried to recreate a community connection in Amore Ristorante through its material palette, clever décor and accessories that invoke the Italian vintage look – a space for relaxed discovery!
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs By Palak Jhaveri