A sumptuous wooden material palette and smart details come together to balance the classic and contemporary in a bare shell at the heart of Kolkata’s Salt Lake City courtesy interior designer Ajay Arya. Presenting, the stylish all-day eatery — Sly Fox Gastro Club — that transforms into a buzzing lounge at night, and is poised to become the next swish new haunt of the neighbourhood.
Text: Sanjukta Nandy
Photographs: © 2018 Photographix | Sebastian + Ira, courtesy A Square Designs
The City of Joy may be known for its history and patronage of art and culture, but save for the famous locality of Park Street, it hardly is the first city to come to mind when one thinks of a buzzing nightlife. Entrepreneurs Karan Chhawcharia and Rahul Dalmiya decided to change this by giving the young and upwardly mobile professionals who worked in the IT hub of Kolkata’s Salt Lake City area a place where they could hold meetings during the day and let their hair down post sundown. And that’s how Sly Fox Gastro Club came into being.
The man who was tasked with bringing this space to life was interior designer Ajay Arya, principal at Kolkata-based A Square Designs — who had previously designed Karan’s house. Karan and Rahul offered him a precise brief: to design an all-day dining restaurant that could double as a lounge come night. As the cuisine was an eclectic mix of Indian, Asian and Continental food, the ambience was to be smart, stylish and luxe. Ajay says “During our discussions, one directive that really stayed with me was to avoid the overused ‘industrial look’.” The designer was thrilled to discover the 22-foot high ceiling of the site during his first visit and this inspired visuals of a space that mixed contemporary flavour with simple classic details in a concept he thought of as, urban chic.
Extensive brain storming sessions were held with the client to determine the layout and decor. These even went overseas, including travels to Bangkok to visit some of its new restaurants and bars and explore the international paradigm of young hospitality. “We started off with the overarching concept of ‘Taste the Twist’ where the idea was to give our guests an experience of well-presented delicacies, chic ambience and music that sets the mood,” asserts Karan.
During the day, Sly Fox Gastro Club caters to office-goers with its popular lunch buffet. At night, it transforms into a restaurant and lounge with a DJ and live performances. The layout has thus been worked on in a way that easily facilitates this transition every day. At the outset, the site was a raw shell. The design was conceptualized to involve an open plan with walls to segregate the kitchen and service areas, but divided loosely into zones. A small welcome desk/reception at the entrance, the open layout sit-down dining areas (giving the cafe a huge visual throw), the bar, the high communal table right in the centre of the cafe (which is also used for the buffet), the DJ console, the services and the kitchen were planned keeping in mind the design, decor and multiple functions of the space.
Every piece of furniture and design detail was customized for the restaurant. One of the highlights is the communal table placed right in the centre of the space. The top has been made from a single piece of natural wood with its irregularities adding to its charm, Ajay says, “We worked on the communal table, keeping in mind the need for it to easily change its avatar and double as the lunch buffet set up.” The wooden chandeliers suspended on either side were also specially commissioned and are a part of the focal decorative lighting with strategically placed dimmable down lighters for general lighting. Ajay adds, “The chandeliers have become such a favourite with visitors that they often enquire where they could buy such pieces for themselves!”
Natural tones of walnut and teak finish allude to the luxurious ambience, which is further accentuated by the wooden arches smartly padded with raw silk for acoustics. Wooden panels on the double-height walls draw the eye upwards highlighting the height of the space and rendering it with grandeur. Ajay’s favourite design accent is the chevron-patterned flooring in indigo and white tiles. Shrubs in the centre of the restaurant bring freshness and imbue a cheerful, casual vibe. The bright hued tapestry on the sofa seats, the screens on the high wall above the bar and the exclusive Hollywood themed graphics adjacent to the DJ console box complement the classical decor with a modern touch.
With a concise but well-thought-out material palette, keen detailing, and an astute use of colour, Ajay has created a hip new Kolkata joint where classic touches find their place amidst modern luxury. It’s also a perfect example of designer and client working in tandem to give rise to a successful project that both can be proud of.
To design a gastro-pub that is richly nuanced with a classical yet urban ambience, aimed at creating a stir in Kolkata’s restaurantscape.
Floor: Cement tiles
Windows: Aluminium with a wooden jacketing
Lighting: Hand crafted wooden chandeliers
Project: Sly Fox Gastro Club
Clients: Karan Chhawcharia and Rahul Dalmiya
Location: Salt Lake Sector V, Kolkata
Area: 3,500 sq ft
Principal designer: Ajay Arya
Furniture manufacturer: Sethia Handicrafts Pvt Ltd