Main Course | February 2012
Designer Shabnam Gupta of The Orange Lane undertook a tumultous design journey as she created a unique vibe for The Big Nasty at Bandra, Mumbai.
The ambience of the all-day diner and bar The Big Nasty in Mumbai is hard to describe. It is partly industrial, partly kitchy and entirely classy. And, to pull off this melange it would need a really creative designer – so it comes as no surprise to learn that Shabnam Gupta of The Orange Lane masterminded this design.
The name of the firm itself indicates Gupta’s style. While one can easily find a common link in all her designs – the use of bright colours and textures, the experimentation with light and shadow and the subtle introduction of quirky elements – no two projects of hers look similar.
The nasty brief
At the Big Nasty, you see the coldness of the exposed cement walls meet the softness of fun elements in a chic fashion. Visitors can choose their favourite corner: with either monkeys making faces or a large shark eyeing the drinks or coldly staring at metal pigeons. One can also choose the rural ambience of a corner in which bright rolls of fabric that resemble yarns hang on walls, or feel a little wicked and park oneself behind a prison-like grill.
“The brief was to create a ‘nasty’ ambience that fits in with the fried junk food and drinks served here. We came up with a concept of making everything ‘larger than life’ to go with the food styling; the visuals that came to our mind were the dinosaur and the monkey, and we translated them into the design,” shares Gupta, who has worked closely with the branding team to create the entire look.
Besides the visuals, Gupta’s team felt that an industrial, colourless, masculine-looking space would give the restaurant the desired energy, and the shell provided to them obliged. The space was originally a very popular night spot, now dilapidated. On opening up the structure and cleaning out the shell, the team discovered fantastic girders that were supporting the slack on top.
“We started exposing all the columns and realised that there were scores of columns in the middle that were not centred with the walls. So, we designed the space around it. We simply finished the concrete cemented columns and enhanced and exposed whatever we could within the slab itself. In other words, we stripped the structure naked,” Gupta enthuses.
The jacketing on the columns, the open AC ducts, the industrial aluminium floor, all add to the industrial look. Offsetting this are the stained glass windows with some coloured panels that are now lit from the outside. The overall look of the space sharpened up to be masculine, perky and rugged – something that attracted the young and casual crowd. Gupta used steel chairs and tables and built-in concrete furniture around the periphery for seating. An old style grill was used as a partition and beautiful shadow-casting lamps sourced from Gupta’s store – the Peacock Life – were hung over the tables.
However, within a very short span of launching The Big Nasty, the management decided to re-launch the space as a bar and not an all day diner – and the design needed to be changed as per new requirements within just three days!
The new look
Faced with the challenge of livening up the space and transforming it into a happening bar, Gupta’s team decided to leave the shell untouched and play with the loose furniture and lighting. The AC duct was painted in a bright canary yellow – a colour borrowed from The Big Nasty branding. With this as a cue, lounging sofas in this canary yellow were thrown around. The bar stool seats were also clad in this colour. A few sofas in a ‘coca cola’ red were added to offset the yellow, and for a fun-retro feel, the sofa piping was lined in white.
The earlier understated lighting was pumped up a bit, and to add character to the space, framed pictures were added to all the columns and lit up. The tables where the sofas were placed had their legs chopped and refinished to turn them into coffee tables. Almost within a trice, the place was transformed!
“We needed something for the eyes to pop out, and I think we have achieved that,” says Gupta rightly.
Another aspect that needed attention in the design was the acoustics. “With the concrete walls, the echo increases and it needed to be kept under control. Besides, there was very little soft furnishing,” says Gupta. Her team came up with an interesting idea – they stuck foam cylinders on the ceiling, which not just absorbed the sound and kept it within the space but also added an element of interest on the ceiling. A double treat!
From an all-day diner to a bar, from the coldness of grey and metal to the splash of bright colours and from one good design to another, The Big Nasty’s journey has been eventful and truly spectacular, thanks to The Orange Lane!
Meet the designer: Shabnam Gupta
Firm: The Orange Lane, founded in 2003.
Firm specialisation: High-end residential and hospitality interiors.
Design philosophy: Change is the only thing constant.
Philosophy towards life: Work is worship.
Favourite architect/Designer: Bijoy Jain, Frank Lloyd Wright and Geoffery Bawa.
Total Area: 2,000 sq ft
Total Cost: Rs 4,500/sq ft
Text: Sumisha Arora
Photos: Indrajit Sathe
Principal Designer: Shabnam Gupta
Project designer: Shireen Mahna & Salim Khan
The Orange Lane, 31N Laxmi Industrial Estate, New Link Road, Andheri (West), Mumbai 400 053. Tel: 022-2632 3331.
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