Paris. The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre, Mona Lisa, the writers, the art, the fashion, the creativity, and the French patisserie. A whole train of thought comes to mind whenever we think of this beautiful city of lights, leaving us with a strong lingering desire to visit and experience the sheer magic the place has to offer! But to travel such distances is easier said than done now, isn’t it? Coming to the rescue in these times of woe is the hospitality and gastronomical industry, bringing us all an encapsulating experience, carving out a little piece of heaven for us in the middle of the urban Indian context!
The unmatched joy of indulging in the whiff of a perfectly-brewed cup of cappuccino alongside the aroma of breakfast bakes or a plate of juicy fresh fruits in a charming setting with garden-fresh bouquets of flowers and watching the day and people pass you while being seated in the outdoor area, on the cobblestone streets – this was the grounding goal for the upcoming new Cafe. Ar. Abhigyan Neogi, Founder and Principal Architect at Chromed Design Studio, wanted this space to encapsulate an untainted European Cafe’s experience. Ushering it to life in the heart of Chanakyapuri, Delhi, Abhigyan’s creative soul expresses his deep-seated love for Parisian aesthetics and boulangerie, evoking a metaphysical curiosity and a fervent sense of individualism through this project- Cafe de Flora.
The site of this cafe brings two structures to the table, where the brief was straightforward and simple- to give a cottage-like feel to the space. Additionally, to add a unique edge to the space, the idea of inspiration from flower shops in Paris came to be. The third zone becomes the amoeba-shaped space between both cottages, where the outdoor seating is aligned. Last but not least is the entry to the cafe- conceptualized as an entrance to a florist, lined with a fresh supply of flowers, imparting a fragrant welcome into the Florentine experience this place has to offer.
As far as the first impressions are concerned, the expressiveness from the streets of Paris is incorporated into the facade. All of it- the fluted panels of bison board, the floral arrangement to amp up the character of the space, the arched and panelled windows, the glowing name of the cafe, or the paint that adorns and brings out the light shades of whites and pinks of the bloom, the entry to this boho chic cafe calls out to all the bohemian souls out there! The curation of these design elements is not just about what France has to offer but also about the distinctive culture that the city has captured and embodied over the years.
This place carries a certain femininity from the vegetation suspended from the ceilings to the prim furniture interspersed throughout the space. Apart from this, the palette largely comprises of white and black monotones, wallpapers, and wooden textures.
To balance the freshness and cool-hued interiors, wooden flooring is laid, initiating warmth and geniality. Continuing the furnishings and furniture on the same lines, a design language of everything all-white in wrought iron garden furniture was followed. As heavy as it sounds, the chairs were designed in a way that they continue the Victorian feel instead of a bulky one. To negate the robustness of iron, heavy and thick cushioning was added, bringing comfort to the guests dining here. While the soft curves and waves on the backrests of chairs define delicacy, the table is topped with marble for ease of maintenance and makes it sturdy, also keeping the theme of the cafe intact. Similarly, the lighting is kept around the idea of the French Riviera. Vintage wrought iron fixtures finished in golden colour are suspended from the white PVC ceiling.
Dripping with elegance, the lighting theme continues in the same language in the outdoor seating area, differing in tone and shade, changing to rustic black. This outdoor space is an irregularly shaped area between both cottages, reflecting the idea of Parisian streets, with tables aligned alongside the windows of the structure. For a synonymously defined continuation of space, the live kitchen is also finished in the same way the facade is. This helps the guests to weave a story of relevance and relativity. To top it all off, the toughened glass partition separating the two spaces is designed to be sliding-folding doors that open up to spill the interiors out to the outdoors, cohesively binding the whole cafe together. While the kitchen engages the user in activity on the exterior, the bar’s activities occupy people’s attention in the interiors. Inculcating a sense of earthiness in the Indian context, the flooring in this area is dominated by colourful tiles, giving the absolutely beautiful beiges, blues, purples, and greens of the cafe life by balancing out elements.
Be it the wide boulevards and pavements of France or the cozy lanes and roads of India, innovation, and ingenuity has no boundaries. In a nutshell, your hunt for an artistic and creative cafe space in the capital comes to an end with Cafe de Flora. All these design decisions sew together a thoroughly bespoke instagrammable cafe in the heart of New Delhi, becoming the ideation hub for countless future writers and artists, the same way cafes in Paris do.
Photography credits: Cafe de Flora