The Bombay Bronx at Breach Candy, Mumbai, is a bar-restaurant dedicated to all the familiar sights a Mumbaikar experiences on a typical day. The trick is it even manages to make them look fresh.
The city of Mumbai seems to almost encourage hustle bustle and madness, just so that it can astound you with the method that can spiral out of it. And indeed, for ages, photographers, artists, poets, writers, designers, animators and so many more have found boundless limits of creative energy from this city. Because who can escape inspiration in the midst of all the flamboyance of colour and conversations?
And so there is The Bombay Bronx at Breach Candy, another project paying a loving tribute to the cacophony of Mumbai, but still succeeding in making it look fresh and accessible. To ape a landscape that is riddled with contradictions and filled with micro design details, this bar-restaurant’s insides have been built to be slightly overwhelming to a new-comer’s eye.
The wash of warm yellow light is not just for illumination but to make all the reds, greens, yellows, and blues of the décor stand out in full ‘hip’ glory. And the bare concrete and brick walls are there not just for aesthetic contrast but to also remind you to revel in inconsistency, just like how the city of Mumbai does every day.
The team from Mumbai-based firm, The Orange Lane, worked a fine eye of detail here to achieve the holy grail of a café design template – a mix of the rough and the refined; a safe place for caffeine-guzzling genteel folks to appreciate artificial ruggedness. The Bombay Bronx’s smorgasbord of props and accents succeeds in achieving the client brief, which was quite simply the creation of “a vibe called ‘Bombay’”.
So representations of the usual suspects may all be found here – the fastidious dabbawalas; the never-waning charm of the Irani cafés, the phalanx of railings and tin sheets and metal meshes and the inescapably mighty Bollywood, whose kitschy charm continues to spawn pop art prints and products. And all the shiny faux leather upholstery is no unplanned oversight, but a clever comment on the class divide that splinters the landscape.
But the fun here will be in appreciating the presence of the unsung character actors. Look out for the brilliant, lit-up gola stand. Regale yourself by reading the impish graffiti, strewn all around in loopy, sleepy text, exactly like it should be.
Soak in the different perspective that a dismembered, fluorescent-bellied rickshaw offers, and of course, also take a selfie in front of it. Marvel at the impish painting of a voluptuous fisherwoman, posing exactly as all the modern super heroines do, challenging you to reconsider her image.
Recognise the familiar comfort in the Devanagari script spelling out Marathi words and numerals. All small details that are easily missed every day, but so much more profound when looked at while relaxing with friends.
The interior design followed an open policy for even the important elements of the 1,900 sq. ft. space. The RCC roof is exposed, with the conduits showing through, and hand bars like those found in BEST buses hang from the ceiling. “There is a large central installation of naked bulbs with their wires entangled and connecting to an open electric metre box, talking about the “electricity chori” that everyone in Bombay is well versed with,” the team adds.
A barbed wire mesh runs from end to end, with a row of pigeon installations hanging by it, a philosophical take on the life of “every Bombayite and how the city consumes all.”
The Bombay Bronx had to have started with a tough agenda. It is an uneasy task for a café to stand out nowadays; no matter how good its grub-and-drink-serving skills are.
An entire range of looks, from refined to semi-formal to irreverent, has already been adopted and experimented with in Mumbai, ad nauseam, so a theme centred on familiarity with the city is a tricky call. But The Bombay Bronx manages to look good. And the reason for that is its simplicity of representation.
It wisely pre-supposes the guests’ deep understanding of the props, and so just lays them around for them to gawk at. Even its subtle messages on the city’s complexities are non-declarative and elegantly restrained. It is a smart mix, thus bringing together of shiny colour and edgy concrete and making it all look like a fond city.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy The Designer