F-cafe, a Food, French, Fun and Fashion Train in Hyderabad designed by Aamir Sharma, won the IIID award for hospitality.
I hate cutting down trees or tinkering with nature,- states Amir. So the original palm trees on the site were placed in glass enclosures that light up at night, and join the lit onyx bar to give an almost surreal effect to the dining area.
When you hear the word "fashion" and your train of thought stops at a French boudoir, it means your train is bang on the right track. Interior designer Aamir Sharma's thought train started at fashion, moved on to Paris - the fashion capital of the world, chugged along and travelled all over France, zeroed in on the beautiful French women - known for their impeccable style and finally stopped at the French boudoir, an elegant, intimate and luxurious ladies room to entertain friends and folks.
The F-cafe is exactly like a French boudoir. Indulgent, tastefully done up, it spells class like the way no other cafe does in this part of Hyderabad. Fashion Cafe is the hospitality division of the Fashion channel FTV that needs no introduction, and so, naturally, everything in this fine dining place had to be "fashionable".
The space won designer Aamir Sharma this year's IIID award for the hospitality division in the acclaimed designer's section.
The day Aamir saw the old dilapidated property of the "70s with its swaying palm trees about nine months ago, he knew he had a winner on his hands. He fell in love with the palms, the oh-so-Mediterranean feel of the backyard and promised himself the palms would remain, with their jaunty sway intact, no matter what the design dictated. Of course, he did have to make a compromise elsewhere. He had to retain the 18-inch load bearing wall bang in the centre for design purposes. No regrets though, as he used it to create a tiny intimate place for the couples waiting for their table.
Interestingly, the moment you take a right turn into the parking slot of F-cafe, you feel the world has changed in a flicker. There is no hint of the city when you go past the gate. There is a lot of nature and life around. Swaying palms, wooden pathways, and airy pergolas, water bodies, gliding fish, pebbles and creepers on walls". A setting where you instinctively tend to unwind, loosen your tie, let your hair down, put the mobile on the vibrator mode and hang loose!
The pergola, the F-cafe staff say, is the hot spot at dinner time with with the inviting glow of the accent lighting around. "Hold on, check out the interiors and then decide the seating you prefer," says Aamir hinting about the surprises inside.
Incidentally, the outdoors has no direct lighting. Instead, every source of light hides behind the coconut trees or is tucked underneath the walls of the floor level water bodies.First impressions are made and continue as you enter the foyer. A stunner with exquisite sink-in furniture, Victorian cushions, and a stylish Venetian mirror, lovingly handcrafted to reflect some classic Italian charm. A blue mirrorwork bust sitting pretty against the window accentuates the soft lights in the room. Does it work? You bet. The zillion mirrors on the well-endowed bust reflect the light to dazzle you, literally!
A little further is another lounge space that talks and walks novelty. A hooded black chair in crocodile leather looks as though Napoleon Bonaparte would have used it to contemplate his war moves. Classic French! Candle holders in intricate designs look tall and sensuous and add a French aura to the room. A big glass structure has a diamond with an "f" in lower case embossed on it. And naturally everything in this fine dining place has got to be fashionable. Including the wooden staircase that leads you up with no ugly supports for the railings. Just a seamless log of wood that your hand glides over as you ascend to the first floor!
Not to forget the sleek plasma televisions encased in antique showpiece frames on the ground floor and in black mirror panelling on the top floor.
Even as Aamir explains his ideas, we see the F-cafe guests exclaim, purr, coo and whistle at the F-TV models in classic black and white photographs on the first floor. "I poured over millions of model photographs on the Internet to get the right ones that would reflect Fashion TV. Barring a dash of colour on the clothes, the photographs are in stark blacks and delightful greys. Of course, I had sinful fun surfing for the pix," he quips.
Equally understated is the metal printed organza screen that separates the buffet area from the a la carte tables. We hear the clink of the cocktail glasses and our eyes lead us to the bar with a lig up onyx in bright orange. There we are amidst those palm trees we encountered right at the beginning. Only this time the trees have exclusive glass enclosures that light up by night to give the trees a surreal look. "I hate cutting down trees or tinkering with nature. I was happy that I could accommodate the trees in toto while designing the cafe," Aamir says.
The most challenging bit for Aamir was when he wanted to make the rest rooms accessible to the guests, yet not jut out into the dining area. "I got a nice little three-piece glass enclosure with plush seating and placed it before the restrooms but facing backwards. That solved the problem."
The "F" logo is cleverly engraved on the glass as though to continue the thread of fashion. Talking of threads, a black satin thread doubles up as an innovative see-through curtain that separates the main dining area from the glass balcony.
The buffet balcony, attached to the kitchen and the work area, is not at all an impersonal place where you pick up your plate, go about loading it and eat your food silently. Instead, it is done up metal purloin with wooden reapers as a complete roof and enclosed in glass with landscaping around. "You can enjoy the greenery and keep out the harsh light at the same time," explains Aamir.
The balcony opens into a lower level outdoor space with a few tables. Again, the view is beautiful with the lush palms, wooden lattices all over. The experience is enhanced by the aroma of the food that wafts from across the buffet table.
A burger and French Fries arrive. "Fries, French, Fashion... My thought trains goes all the way back to fashion," he laughs.