Setting a new standard for today’s jaded restaurant goer, the Millhouse in Ahmedabad is replete with a rustic yet chic atmosphere.
For designers Sameer and Shilpa Balvally, partners and principal architects at Studio Osmosis the task at hand was to visually cater to the growing cosmopolitan tastes of the otherwise traditional and conservative city of Ahmedabad. Located at the swanky Alpha One Mall, this industrial yet contemporary restaurant is one-of-its-kind. Suggestive to its name and inspired by a mill-house, the design narrative for this Ahmedabad restaurant speaks of functionality and freshness. The materials used in achieving the desired look and feel of a mill-house are left true to their form and utilitarian without much ornamentation,” justify the designers.
Marrying aesthetics and essential aspects is a tricky task for any designer. Given the nature of the space and its user group, comfort and visual appeal is of course, of utmost priority.
Standing majestic, the key elements are the red brick arches that visually draw in curiosity while emanating a sense of warmth. “Tall, red brick arches adorning the concrete finish walls are representative of the architecture of the city of Ahmedabad. These arches along with an open ceiling concept bring out the volume of the atmosphere as is typical of mill-houses. The central arch acts as a glass portal to the live kitchen. The bar-back arch with display shelves is mirrored on the opposite wall to balance the material and color palette across the space. This arrangement of elevation elements is done justice to, by designing a facade that is lightweight and one which visually connects the outside to the inside.” explain the design team.
Every aspect of the design detailing reflects the ethos of the restaurant and the message it would like to convey to its customers is carefully highlighted by the designer duo “The core values of honesty, transparency and quality run through all layers of the consumer experience. The same approach is used in designing the interiors; a simple and welcoming ambience has been instilled with plenty of natural light and materials that create a connection between the modern food habits, interiors and ethnicity of the place. At Millhouse, every recipe consists of that one special ingredient which makes it stand apart and appreciated by all. The special ingredient in this fine dine restaurant cum cafe is its interiors which has a delightful aura making the food even more enchanting.”
Perhaps one of the most refreshing aspects of the interior detailing exhibited by the designers is the conscious use of bright colours and vernacular elements that the craft heavy and heritage rich state of Gujarat is ever so popular for. Meticulous and tasteful, the use of bandhini patterns on the custom made tiling that adorns the walls and floors, enhance the complex yet straightforward message of evolving tastes.
The designers mention that, “the dessert and drinks bar is one of the most enticing features of the place defined by the use of the Bandhini patterned tiles referencing the roots of the place. The interiors are kept raw yet fresh with pops of colours like blue and green established through the furniture and plants. The walls are kept in unfinished concrete with a metal band running around transcending to door handles.”
Taking a leaf out of the client’s project goal, the designers highlighted that every aspect was well thought of, so as to ease the customers into the contemporary concept of the restaurant right from the entrance. “Another element in the facade is a cove-lit niche created under the signage for fresh potted plants. Flooring patterns and art pieces are inspired by the vibrant colors of the traditional clothing of Gujarat.
Collaborations with artists to create fabric art in geometric patterns with threaded details are displayed on the bare concrete walls. Delicate metal frames with planter boxes act as screens dividing the space. An arrangement of fresh, green herbs in these planter boxes acts as visual relief in the otherwise rustic space. On either sides of the bar-back arch are industrial display shelves for fresh, organic bread made by the restaurant. The overall design language of the space is keeping in mind a fine dine restaurant that doubles as a fresh, casual cafe during the day.” they tell us.
Softening the stark floor and mostly bare walls, the strategic placement of live plants and subdued ambient lighting further brings out the crucial design elements that all stand in unison as an ode to the city’s strong cultural heritage.
Text By Virupa Kantamneni
Photographs Courtesy The Architect