SUMESSH MENON

Designer behind: KOKO, Foo, Dragonfly, among others

SUMESSH MENON

What’s the most difficult-yet-successful design you’ve done?

The Dragonfly in Aerocity Delhi, which was like an auditorium with a 50 feet ceiling. We made bars at all three levels, and Priyank (Sukhija, owner) first couldn’t understand why we need so many bars in one place. That was a challenging layout, and there’s no other place in the country with these many bars.

How do you think restaurant design will change in the future, in the post pandemic world?

None of our designs are going to change, and we have a bunch of upcoming projects here as well as abroad. Hygiene is the new mantra, that’s what’s going to change more than design. Washrooms will have more censor-based ware, orientation will change a bit. All the dark and dingy settings will not work for now. All the decluttering, though, is temporary.

How important is “Instagrammability” when you’re designing a restaurant in today’s age of social media?

I don’t particularly work on one corner for the pictures, I treat it in a manner where every corner can be Instagrammable. Take people anywhere, and you should have elements that tell someone they’ve come to a restaurant, like KOKO or Foo. Now, even when we design washrooms, we add details to it, because we see a lot of people taking pictures there.

PAVITRA RAJARAM

Designer behind: Soufflé S’il Vous Plaît, Slink & Bardot, The Tasting Room at GoodEarth

What’s your thumb rule when it comes to hospitality design?

I try to create an atmosphere that doesn’t compete with the food. One of the most endearing parts about the restaurants I have done is that the decor and the food go hand-in-hand. The experience of the restaurant and the ambience has to work together. Slink & Bardot was supposed to be all about small plates, The Tasting Room is the place for solitude and a cuppa, and so on.

What’s the most difficult-yet successful design you’ve done?

Every project makes me feel like there are drops of blood on my forehead. With Soufflé, I knew it was going to be a French bistro, but I didn’t want to bring Paris to Mumbai. For me, it’s all about the storytelling, so I brought about reference points from Paris for Soufflé.

Restaurant View

How do you think restaurant design will change in the future, in the post pandemic world?

It’s not the first time we’ve dealt with something like this. In fact, the plague came to Mumbai and lasted about 20 years, but humans are fundamentally optimists, and also hedonists. People are being cautious, but I see a keen desire to connect, to go out, to reach out. Maybe the mob scene is over for the immediate future, but people will still want to go out. I don’t think that is going to change.

How important is “Instagrammability” when you’re designing a restaurant in today’s age of social media?

I think there’s no getting away from the fact that social media is a huge factor. But as a designer, I don’t design for Instagram, I design for humans. I feel like if a place is warm, if it’s relatable, it touches your heart, and if you connect to it, Instagrammable or not, you feel like coming back to it again.

 

FREDDY BIRDY

Designer behind: Whisky Samba, Yo! China, The Wine Company, The Wine Rack, The Kimono Club, and Bohca

FREDDY BIRDY

What’s your thumb rule when it comes to hospitality design?

The physical space itself sets the mood of the place.Is it in a basement? A rooftop? Does it have natural light? What are the hours of operation? What are the plus points/ limitations of that particular space?

What’s the most difficult-yet-successful design you’ve done?

The Kimono Club. It had a long, awkward basement space, tucked away in an unused corner of a mall. To turn it from a previously drab, dingy, dull, unused basement space into a glamorous nightspot was fun.

How do you think restaurant design will change in the future, in the post pandemic world?

Difficult to say. But maybe when new restaurants happen, they will be something more open, like on a terrace or a patio, or a poolside, rather than in the closed confines of a room.

How important is “Instagrammability” when you’re designing a restaurant in today’s age of social media?

Very important, because people go to a restaurant or nightclub to feel good, to look good, and good food and a beautiful space make you feel great. So if a place is Instagrammable, it will attract more people.