Appetite for Design

Retail therapy meets gastronomy delights at the new Beyond Designs Home and Bistro, where co-founder Neha Gupta has created a European-style restaurant as the new vertical to the flagship New Delhi store.

Text: Carol Ferrao
Photographs: Atul Pratap Chauhan, courtesy Beyond Designs Home and Bistro

Interior designer Neha Gupta

Twenty years ago, a long-cherished dream of designers Sachin Gupta and Neha Gupta was realised. By establishing the exclusive home decor brand Beyond Designs, they pursued their vision of offering unbridled access to rich interiors furnished with custom-created furniture pieces, lights and artwork in their trademark style — a “fusion of Indian art and European design, and a celebration of our glorious heritage of handcrafted traditions.” After nurturing this passion with vigour for the last decade and half, Neha since the last five years began exploring the potential for a retail-cum-dining experience in New Delhi, where the flagship store is located.

“It’s something I have witnessed and admired abroad on my numerous travels. I was inspired by several places that I enjoyed for various reasons, like the way the interiors were designed, or the food was curated or the manner in which it was presented…” shares Neha, when asked about the genesis of the idea. And thus, was born the Beyond Designs Home and Bistro, where the latter is a new vertical within the existing store — and is exclusively handled (and designed) by Neha as she is the brain-child behind its origin.

Epoxy flooring (created using cement slurry) as well as the ceiling finished with “cement splash” ensures the canvas is neutral and bare for the complex — and mostly in-house — design elements to shine through.

The contemporary English-style storefront, with its dark charcoal paint, ample greenery and a grand staircase leading up to the store, makes a stunning invitation that you cannot decline. Inside, the expansive 8,000-square-foot space, with a large foyer leading to a corridor, is neatly demarcated with the bistro on the left and the home section extending from it and engulfing the corridor. European style pillars and arches — instead of doors — offer a beautiful distinction between each section.

Instead of a homogenous wall, the surface tension is broken with wooden collapsible doors cladded with wood and leather on alternate sides.

As the designer and the client, Neha began the transformation with a clear objective — to create a soothing space with European and French design to give a global refinement. The interior shell is kept mostly neutral and bare such that the complex design elements — from the customised furniture, lighting, artwork to cutlery — remain the focal aspects of the design. In tandem with the epoxy flooring, the ceiling is finished in cement with wooden inserts and the walls are either brick-lined with rustic plaster finish or semi-finished in cement and painted in white to give it a raw texture. Thanks to this restrained canvas, the wide collection of vintage art from India and Europe plays a prominent role in defining the space. For instance, the coffee bar features a Nagaland panel sourced from the Northeast but displayed with a contemporary twist. The panel has been cut in half and presented as a diptych painting. Similarly, each artwork is combined in an eclectic manner to evoke a French bistro vibe.

The service counter for coffee and bar is made of wood, stone and brass. It is artfully paired with a bespoke light fixture from the 2018 collection, and wall art sourced from Nagaland that has been cut into half and depicted as a diptych painting.

“Designing our own space allows us to express ourselves freely and shopping for antique pieces has been a stand-out moment for us,” mentions Neha. “The layered look of the decor where disparate design elements come together to create a harmonious place is a reflection of our design vocabulary.” Her keen attention to detail has ensured that the bistro has a personalised touch. The 1,200-square-foot area, with a seating capacity of 30, only showcases exclusive, custom-designed furniture pieces by Beyond Designs. Each one is her interpretation of Indian and European furniture styles from across centuries — Neha describes it as “a little contemporary soul into vintage design.” We see smooth marble-topped tables with sleek metal bases clustered with wicker chairs or handcrafted sofas in rich, printed upholstery and long sofa seating in upholstered leather treated and stained in a shade that is trademark to Beyond Designs. “Only some of the vintage trunks have been picked up while travelling,” clarifies the designer.

Wooden arches mimicking rustic, ancient European architecture separate the bistro from the home section.

As you peruse the space, you can’t help but appreciate its free-flowing, unrestricted nature, achieved through its arches and columns that distinguish each zone. “We incorporated these to both support and include decorative elements to the space,” explains Neha, adding that the European-inspired arches enrich the store with a touch of vintage heritage. In the corridor, they are constructed with wood and painted in cement grey. Similarly, in the bistro, decorative circular wooden columns on the wall stand as the brand’s signature style of embellishment and also break the monotony of the elongated space. On the other hand, large sections of wooden collapsible doors maintain visual connection between the different zones. These are intricately fashioned in wood with either leather or fabric cladding on one side.

Over a charcoal blue wall, home decor pieces are lined up on wood and metal shelves with brass detail. On the left, the store displays its latest, statement chandelier for the season.

When you transition to the home zone, the palette becomes more vivacious, mainly because of the eclectic products on display. There are three sections: one displaying large articles like lamps, chairs, etc, and the other two showcasing smaller items and cutlery among other decor pieces. Here you find cushions and many accessories displayed on wooden and metal shelves with a hint of brass detail and either a charcoal blue or rustic, white wall as the backdrop. Drapes, light fixtures and carpets are cleverly displayed as design elements integral to the store’s aesthetics, and can be upgraded with a new collection each season.

Collapsible doors finished with wood and printed fabric on either side invite you to one of three home sections, where the walls are kept minimal with cement finish and the floor features a carpet by Carpet Cellar.

By blending hospitality with retail, Beyond Designs Home and Bistro is ushering in a new experience in India. We ask Neha whether this is the new way forward for retail outlets? While it definitely works well as a cross promotion, Neha elaborates, “Both dining and shopping being exclusive experiences here, when offered together, they complement each other. It is a trend that needs to gain momentum in India. Once we establish this outlet, we would want to replicate it in our new stores.” Both the bistro and home vertical function independently, with the former serving as a relaxing hub for shoppers as well as an exclusive dining space for patrons wanting to try out something new and unique. Design and food patrons in the capital can thus immerse themselves in both shopping for exquisite, handmade accessories from around the world and indulging in modern European cuisine with a smattering of Asian dishes in a charming and intimate French bistro atmosphere. It is an around-the-world experience where two creative pursuits — gastronomy and design — find a home under one roof.

A bistro and retail space with European and French design inspirations interpreted with contemporary, global refinement.

Floor: Cement epoxy floor
Walls: Brick and semi-finished cement walls
Ceiling: Cement splash
Facade: Dark charcoal painted facade
Display units: Wood and metal finished in gold
Pillars and arches: Wood
Furniture: Wood, metal, stone and wicker
Lighting: Crystal chandeliers

Project: Beyond Designs Home and Bistro
Location: MG Road, Chattarpur, New Delhi
Area: 8,000 sq ft
Principal designer: Neha Gupta