Location: Bombay Mutual Building, India Exchange Place Road, Bbd Bagh, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
For the Bombay Canteen fitout, we started thinking about the idea of Nostalgia, the yearning for a time gone by, and the best of the past. The idea was to synergise with the Food and Beverage direction, which referenced age old recipes in a progressive, fun way. We started looking at the ghosts of buildings for clues, and started thinking about their whispered stories.
Our first layout intent was backed by the simple insight that guests like to sit near walls. We thought it may be interesting to position everyone against a wall, that was a leftover remnant of an old bungalow that existed as a ruin at the current property. Ideas then flowed around creating this incomplete structure, that is populated by guests.
The first sketch ideas revolved around building in clues to the complete bungalow structure, such that guests could piece together ideas of what the bungalow could have been. This direction then guided most of the design detailing, and took care of all the functionality of the outlet, mixing things in seamlessly, like the service station staircase.
The Bombay Canteen aimed to create a large smart-casual dining space, with visual access through the entire site facilitated by the large dining hall idea, yet tables could be aligned to the ruined old wall of the bungalow. Flooring and other room-wise elements were created to add clues to the position and extents of old rooms.
The old school bar at the Canteen was designed on a large wall, with an improvised, slightly ungainly positioning of shelving, to go with the retro-fitting idea. On the same wall exist clues to old rafters, hooks, and the ghosts of photo frames.
A host of clues to the design of the space came from understanding clearly the F&B direction., which referenced age-old recipes in new formats, to create an element of surprise. We used much the same thought process for the environment design, and focused on creating an understated, stylish, nostalgic space for the food to sit well in.
The entire bungalow extents as defined by old Bombay elements, was considered as an exploded view, with smaller joinery details stressing the detachment of the new elements from the old ruin. This allowed us to maintain a certain conceptual clarity, and clean lines of sight across the property.
\Interesting elements typical to the city were created outside the Restaurant, for it to advertise it's mindspace to passers-by in the busy Kamla mills area, and allow it to remain relevant and topical on social media as well. The old format signboard was referenced for this purpose,
The Bombay Canteen fitout allowed us to explore an interesting idea, that of populating a ruin with a ruin, that we can now build out at scale, which was one of the initial ideas of the brief. This singular thought would then allow us to approach any new space and context, and build in a signature approach for future outlets.