When Alfonso X el Sabio forbade all taverns under his kingdom from serving alcohol if not accompanied by a small amount of food, little did he know that the 21st century would see the evolution of his snacks into a full-fledged sophisticated cuisine.
What the 13th century King of Spain intended with his ruling was for the food to slow the effects of the alcohol, and consequently, prevent drunkenness and misconduct. The mandatory portion of food was placed over a coaster which in turn sat atop the glass of liquor. In the land of Don Quixote in Castilla, wine was voted the most popular drink by revelers and fruit flies alike.
The custom of covering a glass became necessary to prevent the winged pests from drowning in the beverages of unsuspecting customers. The coaster or cover was known as ‘tapa’. Over the years, the definition of the term expanded to include the small eats themselves.
For the conceptualisation of their newest venture in Juhu, Mumbai, the owners of the restaurant Myx approached the Mumbai-based agency, Minnie Bhatt Design. Envisioned as a tapas bar serving nibbles from around the world, the concept of travel plays a major role in the design scheme.
The mural of a woman looking out at the world through binoculars is the focal point in the interiors. White textured walls adorned with illustrations of air balloons, birds in flight and exotic monuments, together with a large metal compass suggest a culinary journey of sorts. “These elements create a collection of memories that you take back with you,” says Bhatt.
The space is divided into two sections, indoor and outdoor. Taking a cue from the binoculars, the window panels in the exterior wall are in the shape of two intersecting circles framed by metal sections. Inside, the existing red brick wall has been retained but is overlaid with rough white plaster to bind it with the new textural mood board. It is on this wall that the previously mentioned compass finds its home. A glistening black leather sofa lounges below.
Tin tiles in an assortment of colours have been refurbished and anchored onto the ceiling. “These lend an old world charm to the space, albeit in a contemporary manner,” says Bhatt. The solid teak wood flooring is complemented with walls finished in IPS panels. This finish continues over the bar front, the countertop of which marks the reappearance of the royal teak. Metal frame chairs finished in tan leather upholstery “lend a casual vibe to the space,” while tables in partly painted and partly polished finishes complete the furniture palette. “The service stations, too, are a blend of different drawers and knobs that have been put together,” adds Bhatt.
The suspended lights that hover over the indoor area as well as the hanging lights that twinkle above the outdoor area have been specially customised for the project. The antique cameras, retro hip flasks, vintage frames and ad posters, along with numerous other accessories that dot the canvas of the interiors have been acquired from carefully scrutinised flea markets and antique stores.
Two of her most compelling pieces of work of Minnie Bhatt are the interior design of the prestigious Sun and Sand Hotel in Shirdi, and the restoration and redesigning of a 400 year old temple in Vrindavan, Mathura. Her mantra is to approach each day with a renewed enthusiasm and each project with an eye towards evolving.
Having grown up amidst heritage buildings and the vintage charm of South Bombay, subtle influences of the old world neighbourhood subconsciously make their way into the spaces that she creates. Deeply influenced by the work of Japanese designer Nendo, Bhatt maintains that her style of design is eclectic and contemporary.
On her client-centric approach, she says, “I try to ensure that a space is not only in sync with my aesthetic sensibility, but also reflects the client’s personality.” One of the few designers who effectively fuses cultural identity with technical tenacity, it is no wonder that the fraternity is abuzz with talk of Minnie Bhatt Design.
Text By Ar. Priti Kalra
Photographs Prashant Bhat