Maya and Tai Tai
When Gautam Krishnankutty looked at what he had to turn into a new hip-hop pan Asian restaurant, he was horrified. It seemed he had taken on an impossible task. There were wire meshes on the windows, a discoloured fibre-glass roof and blank walls. So, he commissioned Delhi–based architect Sujit Kumar to give him a clean, understated, Scandinavian look, confident in the belief that his talents as a chef would attract patrons, even if (in an unlikely turn), the ambience didn’t.
It took nine long months for the transformation—Tai Tai and Maya, the lounge bar, opened at the end of October last year. Both are situated alongside each other on MG Road, on the top floor of the Bombay Store. Walls were knocked down, picture windows put in and a view was fashioned.
The Mangalore-tiled roof is a throwback to old Bangalore and a garden of sorts has been crafted using window boxes, complete with cannas. A combination of wood tones (pinewood ceiling, dark wooden floors and basket-weave chairs in deep blackish brown with light flecks) infuse the room with a comforting air, punctuated by a tangerine wall.
Juxtapositioned against the warmth of Tai Tai are the cool colours of Maya, dominated by a large, amoeba-shaped bar. Krishnankutty says: “I told Sujit that I wanted a long bar, so that people could enjoy the space and the ambience and not see it as just an alcohol–dispensing counter. Black and purple are the recurring colours here . Purple columns , ashtrays in tones of mauve built into the lounge tables, sponge–finished purple walls and black suede bar chairs, a curtain made of black gramophone records and a grey-black faux slate floor.
The rest of the colour scheme, dominated by the subtle LED lighting, shifts from pinks to greens to mauves at regular intervals.
Central to both Maya and Tai Tai is, of course, Krishnankutty’s experimental food and cocktails. As he describes it , he deconstructs and then puts it (the food) together again. “Some of my clients don’t return, but the adventurous ones come back for more!”
Tai Tai’s abstract logo has been designed by Visual Idea, and can be interpreted variously as noodles dropping from a fork or the interlocking of the T & T.
For creative consultant Philip Desouza and Arijit Ghosh, brand builder and consultant with Saatchi & Saatchi, the challenge of transforming an impersonal modern lounge bar-cum-diner into a warm, pulsating Latino restaurant was irresistible. All the more because the Cohiba Club was to be Bangalore’s first Cuban restaurant and lounge bar offering expensive, handmade Cuban cigars.
The brief for Cohiba Club, situated on Church Road, was to create interiors that evoked a bohemian, laid-back, relaxed ambience, far removed from the modern minimalistic look. A tall order because the furniture was already in place, colour tones had already been decided and all the designers got to play around with were windows, blank walls, empty niches and a gigantic suspended glass box.
So Philip got his drawing board out and created a mural in his studio which evoked a sense of life in Cuba, complete with the music and the dancing. Translated onto the glass box, this vibrantly coloured slice of life frozen in time invests the space with a different character altogether.
The superfluous service hatch was then transformed into a three-dimensional display window, again with images of Cuban life—vintage cars, the Motorcycle Diaries, the impoverished rich, the Spanish influence. To introduce the cigar bar, a black and white photo gallery of famous and infamous cigar smokers ranging from the young Fidel Castro to Winston Churchill, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Demi Moore makes for unusual window dressing.
Cohiba Club owner Ranjith Kuruvilla says, “during my days as a rubber planter, I had always wanted to own a restaurant and now I have taken the less travelled road, by opening India’s first Cuban cigar bar along with a fine dining restaurant. Cohiba Club has helped make this dream a reality.”