By Savitha Hira
Photography: Indrajit Sathe; courtesy the designer
Read Time: 2 mins
Complementing his passion for materials with a congruent flair, Ar. Sumessh Menon chisels yet another bespoke hospitality ‘wow’!
Architect Sumessh Menon of his eponymous firm has a voracious appetite for materials. His office is in constant pursuit of material behaviour, surface finishes and newbies on the block; researching and working on myriad mock-ups. A prime reason this that none of his projects – whether commercial or otherwise bear any semblance of a signature style; or should we say that – a harmonious blend of unexpected materials - defines his signature style!
In his latest hospitality outing, Mr. Baozi in suburban Mumbai, Sumessh goes earthy with his personal favourite - natural materials, and sets the tone of the Asian Gastro pub with a generous use of richly patterned exposed laterite facade, rustic cement-finish walls, exposed HVAC ducting, staggered limestone flooring, pinewood furniture, copper and mild steel wire mesh, and biophillic design elements and fittings in a ‘raw earthy meets funky Asian’ vibe.
Apportioned into formal and informal seating, guests are treated to cozy outdoorsy pergolas or high table settings or can even move indoors to tables for two’s and four’s as an eight-seater in a tapering rotund, rope-hoisted semi-private arrangement grabs eyeballs.
Right from the striking custom wooden door set within a multi-arched doorway to the imposing Asian influenced artwork that scales an entire long wall; and the ethereal sculptural light fittings to the handmade tile-inlaid rubber-wood tables, the entire space is a splendid synthesis of patterns and textures that dominate the space and yet, are seemingly understated.
Attention to detail is cleverly imparted to every little nook without making it overwhelming. Talented artists have contributed to bringing alive the walls with arresting artwork ranging from larger-than-life paintings, Chinese inscriptions and even FRP masks.
As with any of his projects, a few unique features stand out - Goa bricks laterite sliced in pattern for the peripheral wall; light-weight cement blocks with red silicon joint-spill-overs; and of course, the 8-seater!
Whilst the ambient interior is carefully chiselled for a warm vibe, the architectural elements too – especially the very low hung beams that created narrow openings to the existing space, making it very plain and boxy – now stand replaced with new MS structural supports and carved into large, elegantly arched openings.
With bespoke lighting sublimating the ‘wow’ factor, one cannot but come away reflecting on the faux leather booth seating, or the antique mirror backdrop, or even the croc finish custom stone bar countertop, not to forget the quirkily calligraphic washroom signage!
Despite all that jazz, Mr. Baozi has an amazingly restful ambience.