Call Us


4 Mumbai homes that showcase the city’s Art Deco heritage

A bright, open café that moonlights as a speakeasy. For the patron who wants a place that serves both breakfast and a late night tipple, the Elgin Cafe in Amritsar is a multifaceted space. For architecture and interior design firm Renesa, who designed it, this intent was central to its creation. Everything else—material, colour, spatial configuration—evolved from it and the final outcome was the studio’s uniquely contemporary take on the brief.

From The Breakfast Table To The Bar

That the final outcome is such a vivid and absolute transformation of the parcel of land is revealing of the studio’s skill at seeing what is not there. “The location was a dilapidated farmland owned by the client. He saw the potential of turning things around by building a restaurant there,” says Sanchit Arora, the principal architect at Renesa.
However, it wasn’t just about erecting a regular restaurant there. It was about “creating an al fresco dining experience with the inside meant to be a speak-easy-like bar with a private dining room surrounded by the greens on all sides”.” The design firm took that brief and moulded it into a space that seamlessly balanced very distinct functional requirements through material, colour and clever spatial planning. The starting point was the client’s concept for the Elgin Cafe: “They clearly wanted a different take on the typical English mouldings character in the interior space along with a contrasting material palette that would blend with it.”

Creating Indoor-Outdoor Harmony

That was the springboard for the blueprint the studio came up with, but it was interpreted with their unique design sensibility. “We sought to engage in a design that would create an international hospitality experience, consequently appealing to a clientele that enjoys cafe culture,” says Arora. The idea was to create a nature-filled outdoor area with a laid-back vibe that allowed guests to linger over their meals. The all-day dining area that extended inside was to echo a similar ethos. The continuity was ensured in the interiors, where one part has been given over to the café and the other another, approached through sliding shutters, to a private dining area. A small entrance leads to the wine bar, with shelving that runs alongside the long, fluted bar. In this space, is a community table clad in green stone, paired with high chairs. It’s this unveiling and discovery of spaces that enhances the experience for diners, as they move within, each layer offering a different atmosphere.

Going Green

Neutral it is, by staying with a single, dominant colour palette, but the high-impact shade and the striking material employed hit unmistakably high notes. That also tied in with the firm’s philosophy of going local and using indigenous materials where possible. Here, it found expression in the liberal and canny use of the local green Udaipur stone. The movement of light engages with the green palette to play its part in ensuring that the space walks that tightrope of café-bar ambience effortlessly.

Transitioning From Day To Night

The shades of green, along with contrasting salmon-coloured seating, fabric with dull-gold accents, traditional switch boards and the use of natural cane, create an ever-changing space—as fitting for an indolent lunch as it is for night-time cocktails. Elgin Cafe, then, checks all the right boxes when it comes to an all-round dining experience—from uplifting breakfasts to languid high teas and high-octane nights out. All you have to do is pick your taste.

Leave a comment