Green dragons and red paper lanterns get the boot as this Chinese restaurant in New Delhi goes for gold and black with a vengeance.
Do not mull over the unusual spelling of the name, and don’t look for red lanterns. Chynna Gold, a Chinese restaurant in the ritzy Hilton Janakpuri, New Delhi, sheds the red off its palette and banishes clichéd outlines from the drawing board. Instead, it embraces a theme with black walls coated with gold leaves and bowls of rare white tea with real gold flakes floating in it. If you let the eye run up the soaring ceiling to the Chinese lanterns that sway from the black roof, their shadows, which dance on the roof’s glass panels, will leave you mesmerised. Yes, Chynna Gold is a Chinese restaurant. But with a beguiling twist.
Designed by Bangkok-based P49 Deesign & Associates, Chynna Gold was the design firm’s third project in India; they already have Radisson Resort & Spa, Alibaug, and ITC Mughal, Agra, in their portfolio. The architects received a succinct brief for the Chynna Gold project: Contemporary modern with a Chinese accent. The first decision that the architects took was to break the stereotype that has come to be associated with Chinese design: Red furnishings, dragons, blue-white pottery, etc. The architects chose, instead, to give a free rein to black in their design for the restaurant. And not without reason. In ‘I Ching’, or ‘Book of Changes’, black is referred to as heaven’s colour and ancient Chinese have always revered black as the king of colours. It took the architects nine months to translate this Chinese theme from the drawing board into reality, but the results are well worth the wait….
On the first floor of the hotel, a glass door opens into Chynna Gold. Walk in and you would first notice the linearity and freshness of this barely-a-month-old restaurant. Everything here is in black and gold, symmetrical and harmonious. There are no jarring curves, no outlandish arches and no competing colours.
The black granite tiles that adorn the floor were stenciled in Belgium, the black chairs were custom-made in Hong Kong and the black cushions with gold overlay were designed in China and stitched in India. The French windows that open onto a bustling neighbourhood are elegantly dressed in light golden curtains with chrysanthemum motifs. In one corner, on a wooden pedestal, stands a bunch of bamboo in a glass vase while tall paper lamps add to the regality of the gold leaf-coated walls.
From the ceiling, black and white designer Chinese paper lanterns hang tidily in a straight line, casting a soft glow on the walls, which are adorned by black wall paper with golden squiggles. Not to disturb the colour palette, even the attendants wear black trousers and gold raw silk bandgalas!
Though the restaurant has three distinct sections, the spaces flow into each other, without any dividing elements, like doors, between them. Each section of the restaurant is a continuum of the basic design theme, but with some distinctive touches. Terracotta soldiers stand like sentinels at the Chinese Moon gate of the 16-cover Tea Room, whose walls are shaped like the crescent. The grey warriors look like burly cement structures, but they are hollow and moulded in terracotta.
The walls and the flooring of the Tea Room echo the design of the 100-cover main restaurant. The glass panel that doubles up as the outer wall has wooden overlays that take a cue from the design etched on the granite floor tiles. The black lacquer-finish chairs of the main restaurant, though, are edged out here in favour of round settees with floral upholstery and stools with curved legs in a traditional raw teak-wood colour finish.
On the tea counter sits a Chinese abacus and dark ceramic tea pots and each table has its own lucky bamboo arrangement. By the elevator is a huge pumpkin-like artefact with metal overlay. The burgundy of the pumpkin provides respite from the black that dominates the restaurant.
A few steps away from the main restaurant is the slightly cramped, but intimate 12-cover Private Dining Room, where a gigantic mirror serves as the false ceiling. The wall treatment – of gold with black squiggles – is carried over into this space and the cushions repeat the gold overlay. Large bamboo stalks sit in a vase at the centre of the table and tiny bamboo stalks on the black chest have white ceramic laughing Buddhas for company.
Chynna Gold is an offbeat and refreshing interpretation of Chinese design and colours. One doesn’t miss the red at all. In fact, one is reminded of what French painter Edouard Manet once said: Black is not a colour. In Chynna Gold, black is not a colour, it is a statement. A definitive one at that!
Text & Photos: Preeti Verma Lal
Contact: P49 Deesign & Associates, 74 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand. Tel: 0066-2652 2900. www.p49deesign.com