At the third Indigo Deli, sP+a creates a multi-dimensional space that has quite an original character and at the same time is in sync with the brand’s identity.
DeGustibus launched its third Indigo Deli restaurant in Mumbai, also the third to be designed by sP+a (Sameep Padora and Associates). Over the years Indigo Deli has not just endeared itself to the visitor’s palate, but has also managed to provide a space where dining is an experience for all the senses.
Both the previous restaurants endeavoured to present the ambience of dining in a cosy wine cellar. And despite challenging locations (a busy neighbourhood of Bandra and the bustling Palladium mall), have managed to achieve their desired setting convincingly.
Sameep Padora, principal of sP+a explains the brand’s identity, “The Indigo Deli brand has a very clear direction for the feel of the space, which is a causal warmth created with a materiality of wood and copper accents.” For its third avatar, the test was to create a warm and relaxed space within the R City Mall, one of the biggest malls in the city. A cocoon in the midst of a sea of people with shopping bags.
Summarising the client brief Sameep adds, “Rahul and Malini Akerkar were very clear that they didn’t want all the Indigo Delis to be designed along similar lines, they wanted to leverage context wherever and however possible.”
The design team took into account that the casual dining places in Mumbai often incorporate events into their venue to attract more footfalls into their premises. This became the focal point from where the rest of the design elements evolved.
The atmosphere of the restaurant is clearly felt at the entrance itself and the bright lights of the mall corridors are like the lights left behind at the start of a tunnel; the invitation to explore is clear.
The ceiling instantly captures one’s attention, flowing and ebbing like the sea along the perimeter of the room. This is one of Sameep’s favourite design features of the project. “We have created a veneer cloud to accentuate the boundary. Besides being a stunning design component, it also accommodates the existing columns and conceals the air conditioning machinery,” he adds.
A closer look reveals the intricate detailing which has gone into capturing the lightness and fluidity that clouds must possess. Hundreds of hexagon, rhombus and triangle shaped veneer cut-outs have come together to create the effect.
Sameep explains the complexity of the process involved, “The veneer cloud is a hybrid of tessellated veneer panels and fabric. Its surface undulates based on the size of each of the components, that is smaller the tessellation greater the deviation and vice versa.”
The process of creating this cloud was very technical and the team had to work hard to push the carpenters to harness more than their traditional skills. Digital tools were used for the designing process and the labour-intensive cutting process was mechanised, but that was only part of the job.
The next step was to guide the carpenters to use their expertise in joinery and assemblage. “This,” says Sameep “was one of the biggest challenges of the project. Though the entire planning and preparation was done at the studio, the final assemblage still needed Nupoor, the head of the project, to be on site while it was being put in place.”
The ceiling at the centre of the room is stark black and devoid of any embellishments except for the inverted plate-like light fixtures that disseminate the glow of the naked bulbs within. Besides the obvious design aspect, the ceiling draws attention to the layered seating arrangement.
The seating along the edge, under the ‘cloud’ is in the form of intimate booths. The booths enclose a courtyard-like space in the centre, which can be cleared of the tables and chairs to make space for a performance or an event.
“Contrary to what one might think, there is very little difference between designing a commercial property and a residence. We usually try to detect the essence of the space, its characteristic bereft of program, and then look at a suitable program as a means of manifesting the genius loci,” says Sameep. With Indigo Del, the team at sP+a did exactly this by ensuring that their design is well aligned with the needs and wants of the restaurant.
Text By Himali Kothari
Photographs By Raja Shukla and Sameep Padora