Haryana, India _ The House Of Celeste: A Gourmet Restaurant Design, Explores India's Multiculturalism _ Studio Lotus
The design narrative for the 'House of Celeste,' a new gourmet restaurant in Gurugram, explores India’s multiculturalism, celebrating its sense of togetherness and belonging.
The interiors are designed to echo the country’s enduring legacy of regional cuisines through a series of visual storytelling devices.
The site was split into two levels, with a derelict ceiling and exposed run-down services.
Studio Lotus was tasked with devising the functional program and a design vocabulary that seamlessly tied both levels without altering the original structure.
This constraint was translated into an opportunity to create two distinctive dining experiences that would offer diners a mix of experiences during the day.
The idea to imbibe tropical influences for the design scheme emerged from conversations with Suvir Saran, the Michelin star chef at the restaurant's helm.
He spoke about the legacy of Indian recipes, his journey, and experiments with food—and his interpretation of how gastronomic traditions are passed on over generations.
The inspiration came from this tradition of storytelling—where the eatery was envisioned to feature a 'Cabinet of Stories' that divides the kitchen and dining area and brings the stories of cuisine and culture into the space.
The interior design scheme creates pockets of intense expressions of the concept intended to surprise and delight the visitor.
The spaces in the restaurant trace the jungle theme through a series of dining experiences.
Guests enter the restaurant through the alfresco Outdoor Café, which leads to the Verandah, a cafe, and patisserie.
The 'Fun Dining' has been envisaged as a fine-dining space, and the luxurious Pinjra has been designed to offer an intimate dining experience.
Borrowing from India’s myriad seasonal shifts and weather patterns, and their relationship with jungle fauna, progressive color transitions have been incorporated as spatial markers within the restaurant.
A mix of materials—mild steel, stone, and timber comprise the material palette, accentuated against a backdrop of tropical wallpapers, mosaic tiles, and textured paint.
A key storytelling device uniting the spatial narrative is the 'Cabinet of Stories.'
Running as an uninterrupted grid of mild steel embellished with timber accents, mirrors, and animal figurines, the 'Cabinet of Stories' is juxtaposed against a verdant wallpaper backdrop depicting birds and animals—perched, swinging from branches, and peeking from behind the leaves.
This visual vocabulary of flora and fauna injects the space with colorful life, enchanting visitors to escape to uncharted realms.
This is the duality at play here—while the animals are seemingly escaping the jungle, visitors are led in by curiosity.
Storytelling also finds expression as intricate details in the furniture, upholstery, crockery, shelves, flooring, and furnishing. The Verandah is flanked on one end by a beige textured wall teeming with hand-painted animal faces and on the other end by the 'Cabinet of Stories' and its accompanying jungle aesthetic. The furniture theme explores similar jungle adaptations in its look-and-feel; the upholstery features a mix of light colors and natural materials, and the design takes cues from the natural environment.
At the 'Fun Dining' space, the feature wall splashed in royal blue is accentuated with round mirrors.
The wallpaper gradually shifts to a slightly darker tone, as does the bar counter color, signifying the change in season from summery bright to a muted autumnal hue.
The flooring displays a similar shift in color, keeping in line with the palette.
Crafted to exude luxury and intimacy, the Pinjra features flayed vertical timber slats along the wall periphery, according to the space a cage-like sense of enclosure.
Bird tracks run on horizontal timber slats at the dado level, enhancing guests’ sensorial experience of being in a ‘birdcage’.
The washroom design also presented an opportunity to emulate the tropical narrative; they are realized as mirrored cubes, with the bottom half clad in stone, and the top half covered with jungle foliage print glazed over mirrored screens. The tropical print extends to cover the entire expanse of the ceiling, giving the impression of being in the midst of the lush, verdant outdoors—simulating the ambiance of a jungle expedition.
Overall, the furniture design and upholstery prints take cues from:
tropical motifs, and
natural materials that age well.
In the café, dining tables reference tree logs by making use of a raw, natural form of wood with uneven edges to evoke the feeling of a verandah, creating an enhanced outdoor dining expression.
The 'Fun Dining' experience, by comparison, is traditional in its use of furniture, but vibrant colors and bold prints bring in a sense of playfulness.
Lighting considerations were paramount to drive focus on the key elements in the space: to create intimate pools of light on the tables, and by extension, to highlight the dishes.
The bar, kitchen, and the illustrated flora & fauna narrative, particularly, have been highlighted to create cozy pockets of seating with lines of sight to these well-lit focal points.
Architect: Studio Lotus
Project: The House Of Celeste
Site Area: 4,140 sq.ft.
Built-Up Area: 3,136 sq.ft.
Location: Gurugram, Haryana, India
Design Team: Asha Sairam, Neelam Das & Sonam Agarwal
Client: Cucina Hospitality LLP (Suvir Saran, Animesh Singh Rao)
MEP Consultants: GM Consultants and Engineers, Delhi
Kitchen Consultants: The Consulting, Pvt. Ltd.
PMC: Design Realm, Delhi
Text: By Architect
Photographer: Avesh Gaur
About Studio Lotus:
Studio Lotus is a multidisciplinary design practice founded in 2002–nineteen years later, it is one of the most path-breaking architectural firms in India, with Ambrish Arora, Ankur Choksi, Sidhartha Talwar, Pankhuri Goel, and Asha Sairam at the helm as Principals.
Fostered with a culture of learning and intrapreneurship, the work of the practice is grounded on the principles of Conscious Design, an approach that celebrates local resources, cultural influences, an inclusive process, and keen attention to detail.
The studio’s work has been internationally recognized — winning, among others: the Creative Re-Use Award at INSIDE, the DOMUS Italia Award for Restoration and Adaptive Reuse, the AZ Awards by Azure, the FuturArc Green Leadership Award, Special Mentions at The Merit List, the IIA Award for Conservation, the Surface Design Awards London, Special Prize at the Prix Versailles World Architecture Awards, making India’s AD 100 list for the seventh year running, and a nomination in the Aga Khan Awards cycle 2013.
Studio Lotus, New Delhi
Creating Meaning, Celebrating Context