CW Interiors |
Main Course | May 2014

Dhaba in a mall

Created by designer Sachi Gupta, this restaurant allows you to enjoy the rustic charm of a dhaba in the comfort of an air conditioned mall.

Creating a dhaba in an exclusive mall can be inherently challenging. The mall-mood is young and flamboyant, the space constrained by four walls, the weather unpredictable and the line between subtle and tacky really thin. So, when interior designer Sachi Gupta took up the task of doing up the Dhaba by Claridges, a restaurant in a 3,000 sq ft space in Gurgaon's Cyber Hub Mall, she decided to give the vernacular design idiom a contemporary twist.

The design basics adhere to tradition, as Gupta has borrowed the dhaba's ubiquitous truck theme. The signage of the restaurant resembles the front of a truck - the white backdrop with DHABA is a vinyl print. The vinyl is a deliberate substitute for handpaint - vinyl withstands extreme temperature more efficiently. The front walls are part hardened glass and part teak wood, carved like the slats of a truck's back. Walk in, and the nearly square space gets divided into a 65-cover seating area and an open serving granite counter.

Roughing it

For flooring, Gupta has ignored fancy tiles. Instead, she has used the ordinary cement slurry and given it an undulating, used, rugged look with acid stain cola finish, which has been developed by Mumbai-based Bharat Flooring. The look is not even, because the acid reacts differently to different slurry compositions. The off-white (also called broken white) walls take forward the floor's ruggedness. The unfinished look was achieved by using different kinds of rollers before applying the final coat of paint.

Durable materials

Knowing that restaurant furniture, thanks to heavy use, is susceptible to wear and tear, durable vinyl has been used as a top for teak tables. The designs borrow the truck motifs which were created and vinyl-printed by New Delhi-based 4Designs. The ends of the vinyl table tops were gas-sealed to protect them from getting dog-eared. Also, the backs of functional teak chairs resemble a charpoy, with a slight twist - leather has been used to make them instead of the traditional cotton ropes. Leatherlite was a cheaper option, but it would have sagged under the weight of the diner's back. Hence, the choice of leather.

Seasoned, termite-treated, painted railway sleepers form the back of serving shelves behind the kitchen counter. Railway sleepers were repeated to make up the bar counter top, but the undulating surface was seen to be hazardous for glass bottles and martini glasses. So, silicone guns were used to fill in the gaps and smoothen the sleeper's surface.

Bottoms up

Just as furniture was custom-made by New Delhi-based Klove Design, so were the chandeliers. Powder-coated mild steel, 2.5 ft in diameter round plates were used as the base for chandeliers that have handblown dhaba tea glasses screwed upside down onto them in concentric circles. To create hue harmony, the tea glasses stick to shades of purple, green and amber. The chandelier has halogen lights; all other lights in the restaurant are LEDs.

Cheeky one-liners on vinyl are glued on the walls. However, it is the tyres on the big wall that first catch the eye. Gupta conceived of tyres as an important dhaba design element but she knew that regular vulcanised rubber tyres can create odour in heat. To beat that bane, ceramic tyres were created, their centre covered with interesting designs and backlit to serve as lighting fixture.

Dhaba By Claridges, as Gupta puts it, does what restaurants the world over are taking to - recreating the old world with modern material and innovating the obvious.

Meet the designers: Sachi Gupta

Firm: Sachi Gupta founded in 2009.
Firm Specialisation: Boutique, high-design interiors.
Design philosophy: Innovate on obvious with a reason.
Philosophy towards life: Go with the flow.
Favourite architect/Designer: Laurie Baker & Frank Lloyd Wright.

Total Area: 3,000 sq ft
Text: Preeti Verma Lal
Photos: Andre J Fanthome


Sachi Gupta, 303, Pinnacle Tower, Shooting Range Road, Surajkund, Haryana. Tel: (0) 98997 10644.

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