CW Interiors |
Main Course | January 2013

French influences

Ahsan Ansari orchestrates a striking design for Cheval, a French design influenced restaurant in South Mumbai that serves European fare.

Mumbai, the nation's cultural melting pot, has always taken pride in the way the old and the new mingle in this city. When its old constructions don a new avatar while paying due respect to the inherent beauty of the old style, what we get is not just another novelty, but a touching tribute to the past - a welcome change indeed from the rash of west-aping designs that otherwise dominate the scene in most metros in India. The hospitality sector, in particular, has embraced this concept of design with flair.

One more addition to this category of restaurants in Mumbai is Cheval, a 4,000 sq ft restaurant and bar at Kala Ghoda, which comes with French influences in a contemporary décor. that grows from the past of the structure. Cheval (which means 'horse' in French) is designed by Ahsan Ansari, Principal Architect of the Mumbai-based design firm PFA. The restaurant dwells in an old load bearing building and has three large chambers or rooms connected by narrow doorways and a thin long covered passage way. Because of structural limitations, the spaces could not be integrated and therefore each bay is used separately. The first bay is essentially a bar while the second and third bay make up the dining space. The thin long passage way is the smoking zone.

Going to the roots

For Cheval to start taking shape, the walls of the space had to first be stripped off their existing cladding, thus exposing the old rough plaster. Then the exposed walls were painted. For a dash of colour, some walls have been painted in rust and aqua while one wall of the rear room is finished in yellow IPS. This wall is an ode to French design. It complements the long metal French doors and windows, which are furnished with bevelled glass that brings in oodles of natural light during daytime. The flag stone floor is another tribute to the French style of design.

Fusion materials

"The concept was to create a deconstructed view of space and amalgamating the new with the old," shares Ansari as he throws light on the combination of materials used in the décor. The restaurant has an epoxy cement floor along with the flag stone flooring; there is in situ seating, metal and faux leather bar stool, etc.

Ansari shares that the bar is constructed in lit-up onyx and a high gloss wooden top against a back drop of a shiny rustic grey wall. The glass-and-wood step ladder with display bottles embellishes the bar story. The lighting completes the French look - rustic metal chandeliers hang from the ceiling, complementing the LED wall washers that highlight the rough texture of the walls.

Overall an inviting ambience, Cheval is surely a space where one would want to raise a toast to designs that seamlessly blend architectural eras!

Text: Sumisha Arora


PFA, Backbay View building, 3 New Queens road, Charni road (East), Mumbai - 400 004. Tel: 022-2368 3194 Fax: 022-2361 5535 Email:

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