The young designer duo at Sankraman Design Studio breaks away from the usual to create a fun, energetic space in a company cafeteria, through the use of colours and funky design elements.
The word ‘cafeteria’ may bring to mind something mundane and colourless, but Sankraman Design Studio take a completely different design route in the case of Si-Cafe, a cafeteria for the company Sicom Limited, located at one of the corporate parks in Mumbai. Instead of creating the ‘global design’ corporate culture usually advocates, this young designer duo has created a fun space that redefines the word ‘cafeteria’.
Principals at Mumbai based Sankraman Design Studio, architects Sapna Lakhe and Shwetambari Shinde have always believed in bringing in a transition in society through their designs. According to them, ‘their expertise lies in treating every design opportunity as a personal endeavour and envisioning a distinctive and an innovative perspective right from concept development to the execution of the project.’
This zeal is clearly seen in the 3500 sq ft space designed and executed by Sankraman Design Studio, where colours and funky design elements take centre stage. Tells us architect Sapna Lakhe, “The company was situated in a corporate park and the space had major constraints of light and volume. So a strategic colour palette with minimum floor coverage became one of the most important aspects to be considered while designing the space.”
Reworking the definition of ‘cafeteria’, the pair conceptualised the space not as a lunchroom, but as a social arena encouraging the joy of fraternising and relaxation. “The design brief looks at the office cafeteria, not as a space serving a sole function, but one which brings about community eating, reading and working,” explains architect Shwetambari Shinde to us.
When we enter the cafeteria, a nondescript signboard hanging from the wall announces our arrival into the Si-Cafe. We are welcomed by a large space predominantly in a neutral white palette, where the colours on selective walls and surfaces add the oomph to the design. A smaller spatial scale is visually given a larger appearance thanks to the light and airy design scheme. Rather than a regular table and chair arrangement, the tables and seating follow an organic pattern that eclectically mixes chairs and benches.
According to the designers, “the custom designed tables and seating are one of the key features of the design.” The seating is a long table in right-angle patterns that creates niches for small and large groups at the same time. Such an arrangement succeeds in breaking up the space and avoiding the monotony associated with many of the cafeteria patterns.
Emphasising the food counter is its tiled surface and yellow niches scooped out in the counter. The same yellow finds its way as a part of the striped pattern on one of the walls, further breaking the monotony whilst creating continuity in the aesthetics. Interesting is how the team has made the exposed service pipes on the wall a part of the design by fixing shelves between the gaps.
Wooden counter tops, tables and benches also take on a lighter tone similar to the light colour palette found in the cafe. By choosing thus, the designers have not just veered our attention from the spatial constraint, but also assisted the illumination planning in making the space seem lively and refreshing, in spite of the minimal natural lighting.
A corner space in the floor plan which could have otherwise become secluded is converted into a cosy spot, with upholstered seating and an open library. As an aesthetic continuity, the team has brought in the yellow shade from the main hall into this space through the sofas and ceiling light fixtures. To give this space its distinctly separate identity the designers have painted the walls and ceilings bright blue. This colour coding adds the excitement and quirkiness, the designers aspired for in the cafe.
Another interesting design element is the various artworks that speckle the walls. The Sankraman team points out, “The quirky artwork and an open library with different colour tones bind the space together in spite of different functions to cater.”
Architects Sapna Lakhe and Shwetambari Shinde have turned a space that traditionally dons the sole role of a lunchroom into something more exciting and enriching. Constraints like spatial scale and limited natural light seem to disappear in the bold colours and off-the-wall aesthetics of the cafeteria. The youthful spirit of Sankraman Design Studio echoes within the walls of Si-Cafe in its best and most creative avatar.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Credit Studio-KB (Kunal Bhatia)