CW Interiors |
Smart Design | February 2014

Simply Zestful

In a city teeming with swanky restaurants, an Italian eatery stands out with its simple yet stylish ambience.

When a 6,900 sq ft space in New Delhi´s landmark Ashok Hotel decided to go for a makeover from Lebanese to Mediterranean it was the license that mandated its indoor to outdoor space ratio. Tucked in a secluded corner of the expansive hotel, the new Zerruco by Zilli restaurant is neatly divided into clearly defined outdoor and indoor spaces. Behind a 14-foot steel wool-padded wood and leather door lies 2,190 sq ft of indoor space with an impressive skylight, a 70-ft wall embellished with thousands of hand-carved Scandinavian wooden blocks, chintz upholstery, mustard-colour leather on high chairs, brown velvet on the wall and the ceiling spray foamed for sound proofing.

Outdoor retreat
However, it is the larger 3,230-foot two-level outdoor space that gives Zerruco its USP, and creates a much-needed breathing space in a dense urban setting. This is what Aldo Zilli, the famed Italian chef, wanted Zerruco to look like an open, non-cluttered space that was contemporary with a dash of classic, with muted colours and a comfy look. The brief was to create a Mediterranean-flavoured fresh day-space for brunches in the fall and winter months and a relaxed outdoor lounge space on summer evenings. Taking a cue from Zilli´s vision, Ambrish Arora and Ankur Choksi, Partners at New Delhi-based design firm Lotus, turned the outdoor space into a spot that would delight the guest at any time of the day or night. They threw in fur-finish Scandinavian wood plank tables and stylish chairs on Keramos Yamu sand-wash series outdoor flooring; picked yards of tensile white cloth for the canopy; screwed dark-wood slats onto mild steel to create the concrete and wood fence. They raised a portion for the al fresco area, creating harmony by taking forward the beige and brown colour palette into this space too. A huge chandelier that hangs in the centre is the sole lighting fixture of the covered outdoor space, while the golden fibre squares on the wall and sides of the serving platform are the only glittering element in the open space.

Inward focus
Designing such large outdoor spaces comes with its own set of challenges. Ask lead consultant Manish Kumar Baheyti of Haute Services about it and he´d begin with the dust, insects and extreme weather conditions in cities like Delhi, and move on to elaborate issues pertaining to sustainable energy parameters and the need to use low-maintenance hard-wearing material. That is not the end of the litany, though. The permissions and logistics of working within a New Delhi Municipal Corporation area as well the venue´s location inside another larger hospitality facility became much larger impediments in this project.

Making the outdoor space as private as possible, however, was a priority. ´Visual privacy is easier to achieve compared to physically bringing down distracting noise levels from outside. As in Zerruco, we often rely on creating more engaging inward-looking experiences by shifting focus inwards, integrating landscape and lighting to enrich the experience of an outdoor space. At Zerruco, the peripheral screening of the outdoor courtyard helps create a fairly effective barrier visually as well as acoustically to generate this inward experience,´ says Choksi.

Zerruco does not take you by surprise. It is classic, contemporary and it gives you comfort with its beige palette, grey floors, the high fence and clusters of bamboo. Perhaps that is what gives Zerruco, specially its outdoors, its character.

Restaurant concept: Kashif Farooq and Manish Kumar Baheyti from Haute Services.
Architecture and Interior Design: Ankur Choksi, Partner, Lotus
Outdoor space design: Lotus
Furniture design by Lotus, sourced from Noida
Lighting fixtures design by Lotus, sourced from Jaipur
text: Preeti Verma Lal

Studio Lotus,
F-301 Lado Sarai, 1st floor,
Ch. Prem Singh House,
New Delhi-110 030.
Tel: 011-4052 7979/4057 0808.

Meet the designers
Firm: Studio Lotus founded in 2002.
Firm specialisation: Interior Design.
Design philosophy: ´We believe that a sustainable experience is seldom about a first ´wow´ and hence we don´t believe in a single ´big idea´ approach. We explore ways to engage people, the way they move through the space and interact with it. We like the fact that designing a space offers the opportunity to build in layers which unfold differently for different people.´

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