Project Name: Freshco: The Health Café
Area: 780 square feet
Designers: The Crossboundaries
Design Team: Harsh Boghani, Shailesh Boghani, Vijay Dhabi, Sanket Prajapati and Priyank Mistry
Client: Harsh Vora, Vishwaroop Joshi, Pritesh Mistry and Mangesh Holihosur
‘It’s very hard to have ideas. It’s very hard to put yourself out there, it’s very hard to be vulnerable, but those people who do that are the dreamers, the thinkers and the creators. They are the magic people of the world.’ -Amy Poehler, Yes Please
Time and again, the world has displayed how great ideas evolve when the mind feels liberated from the exhaust of the average daily routine and gets the opportunity to truly think, often among like-minded people. When seven friends embarked on a trip to Mount Abu, the idea of establishing a café based on a theme originated. Immense brain storming followed, but the point of execution did not come then, as the discussion ebbed away while they sipped their drinks. But as it is with the right notions, the idea kept lingering among them, even six months later. One of their friends, an architect, agreed to the idea of making a unique design, for a café which would be one of a kind, but the solution hinged upon bringing forth a café which would be completely different from its contemporaries.
The present day scenario speaks of a trend where people, especially the youth, have opted for health conscious lifestyles. Junk food is not the accepted norm anymore. For instance, naturally prepared juice has obtained prominence over aerated, soft and carbonated drinks. Therefore, the idea for the café was also an extension of these thoughts, and was evolved into a Health Café; Vadodara’s first health based café, catering specially to the health conscious generation. After all, it is not fiction that people how understand the benefits and prefer sipping healthy shots of ginger as opposed to excessive shots of vodka.
Once the concept has been determined, the architect ensured optimum efforts to stay faithful to it. Design principles were determined for the project, which would be attuned to the concept. The idea was to bring forward the idea of healthy as well as fresh products, and to reflect the same in the décor, therefore there was installation of green plants in various places within the interiors. The space covered by the café amounted up to 780 square feet and within the space, the best locations of the kitchen for the optimum distribution of area. The basic layout is oriented around providing proper space for circulation for all, that is, customers, owners and staff as well as accommodating regular loading and unloading of goods.
The décor included a number of five small sized tables, with black glossy top surfaces in combination with black chairs with coloured fabric in order to neutralize the colours and their impact upon visualization. It was essential to select a specific kind of chair in order to ensure that the set of tables and chairs do not become a dominant part of the design. The chairs opted for have been design by the renowned architect, Ray Eames and therefore they are called the Eames Chair.
The 13 feet long table, cantilevers to forms an extended L Shape with a chamfered edge. This consists of green artificial grass cut out within. It has been finished in lime wood and there are button lights at its bottom, as the complete picture presents a concept of linearity and minimalism which have been employed in the design of the café. The green feature atop it is a compliment to the green ambiance, which has been a focal point in the café. The seating with regard to the table has been provided by high, telescopic legged, customized black stools which add a casual aura to the ensemble. The specific crowd it intends to be catered to includes solo customers, inviting them to drop in regularly for a glass of, perhaps, protein shake or juice after a heavy workout. It speaks of a moment of relaxation and pleasure as you view outside the glazing, while sipping your healthy drinking or forking your salad.
A similar style has been adopted along the right side, where a 5 feet long cantilevered table comprises of green cut off atop it, and this has been suspended by a seemingly invisible thread, very thin in nature, in order to reflect the idea of floating lightly.
It is evident that every feature has been carefully ideated, placed and appreciated in the design of the café. For instance, there is a definite variation observed in the sizes as well as the shapes of the 10 suspended incandescent light bulbs, which is a deliberately induced scenario, as it plays the vital role of acting as a welcoming feature when viewed from the outside and it also acts as a well balanced design aspect when one is inside, comforted by the ambient light.
There are elongated boxes, situated on the right side, which store trays holding planters as well as creepers, in order to reflect the green aspect of the café. The boxers themselves have been designed so that they can hold the planter trays, customized for the café. There are button lights which have been fixed to the bottom of the box, which have an ambient play of light with the grey toned walls. Employing natural props like plants can become difficult with regard to their maintenance, but the design ensures that the trays have been customized to enable easy lifting when required, ensuring regular, time saving and easy maintenance. The box reflects multiple levels, enhancing the aura of the café, the picture complete the hanging creepers.
One of the most prominent features of the café is the right hand side wall, artfully done to reflect a vibrant play between colours, as if splashed onto. Funnily enough, the very idea emerged from health related ideals, the anecdote being, when the designer and a friend were conserving, and the designer sipped orange juice which his friend was having apple juice and as a young boy zoomed and rushed towards them, on his bike, the juice got splashed onto the designer’s shirt. While the mixture of the two juices was frowned upon, the idea of the naturally bright colours of fruits such as grape, apply, orange, tomato, blueberry and watermelon, all splashed together on a white canvas presented the idyllic picture for the café. However, the execution of the idea proved difficult, as the vertical wall, despite all varying attempts, through many techniques and with aids from experts, only led to the wall looking less like a splash wall and more like a drip wall. However, this paved way for the idea of achieving a play of splash on digital media, and when the unanimous approval was procured for an effect finally achieved, the same was printed for customized wallpaper.
On the other hand, the left hand side wall comprises of transparent acrylic boxes, in complete contrast with the brightly coloured opposing wall, which accommodate thermocol glasses, and also provide for the provision of green planter trays. While the original idea was to convert this wall into a vertical green wall, budget constraints led to restriction of implementation of this design. In order to make sure that the featured wall retains uniqueness, it was decided to place the transparent boxes, and full them with low budget thermocol glasses, inspired from a midnight cutting chai session at a station. This creates a varying play with light, where light is absorbed, reflected and penetrated through the voids formed, ultimately making this feature immensely attractive while being economical for the café.
In continuation with this feature wall is the dark grey coloured wall, and the wall holds a testimonial to the conception of the café. Swirled in white font on this wall is a short description of the café, as if trying to build a strong connection with the customers and inviting them whole heartedly in a different little world of its own. Also adding to it is a horizontal pocket, to keep numerous books or planters for the customers.
The service counter has been presented in jet black colour with a crisp and tiny button light which denotes ‘Freshco’, in lime wood finish laser cut letters. The pocket placed on the left side holds green planters which delightfully pop out with well placed and lit lights. The simplicity of the black counter adds to the beautiful and serene minimalistic theme of the café.
Interestingly, the wash basin area is quite literally, a blue coloured box. The idea has been to employ colour psychology, aiming to make the person going in to wash their hands before and after their meals, feel thoroughly refreshed. Noting your reflection in the mirror, makes the essence of the blue box truly impressed upon your mind. The smallness of the space, together with the brightness of the colour ensures that the person’s mind is refreshed and spirit is uplifted.
There are, in total, 18 suspended lights in the café, 9 on each side. This, as told by the designer, is one of the dearest and most important features of the café. It took a lengthy amount of time as well as effort, to physically traverse through the shops in the city and find specific lights which would be accommodated in the decided budget. Most of the pendent lights opted for could not be compensated from the clients’ budget. Being faced with this obstruction, the designer was struck with a genius notion when observing a fishbowl at a friend’s place. Creating terrariums using similar fishbowls has gradually become a widespread trend. So, the designer opted to start experimenting with a fishbowl and lighting. Transparency served well, but in order to compliment the splash wall, a pinch of colour would be ideal and stained glass paints were used. A ping pong ball was placed inside by penetrating a bullet light, making it the most prominent feature of the light. Therefore, a layered, customized pendent light was ready and made out of a large fishbowl, which had a spherical base and contained 6 small bowls, 3 of which were coloured and 3 were transparent with white coloured ping pong balls, 3 of which were lit with LED. It was truly a marvelous achievement, as a product made with technique and thought proved to be economical, where this cost only 500 rupees as opposed to store bought lights which would amount up to 12000 rupees, and moreover, the product was truly best suited and idyllic for the café. The designer stands by his principle that states that a design need not be expensive to be good, but it needs to be thoughtful. The transparence achieved through the fishbowl lights merge so well with the ambience of the café that the lights earlier opted for, sourced from shops, with their solid surface colours, would have paled in comparison. In order to suspend the lights, the necks of the spherical fishbowls were prepared with 4 holes on each side. Safety had to be implemented, so a stand was fabricated and installed above the suspended ceiling with 9 rods which would hold the 9 bowls. The perfect execution has even attracted the attention of light shop owners who gaze and marvel at the achievement.
The completeness of the café is observed when one reflects upon the space it holds and the many thoughts and ideas which have oriented around its design. Every feature employed in the design has its own story to relay, reminiscent of the café itself, the idea of which originated from a discussion, a story in itself. It is the combination of these well thought out features, such as the dark ceiling, the indirect lighting, the props placed in accordance with the theme, the minimalistic approach to décor along the placement of the green planters and creepers which portray the essence of the café, and the fresh atmosphere it intends to exude for the purpose of serving as the ideal health café.
The firm, ‘The Crossboundaries’ has evolved from a three decade old architectural firm which was established by Ar. Shaliesh Boghani. The Crossboundaries firm is a new supporting discipline and being concurrent with the present scenario it focusses on various facets such as interior design, product design, event design and set design. Their basic design principle exists around the three rudimentary factors in architecture, which are, design, aesthetics and environment into existence. They believe in the idea of ensuring self-sustenance, and in ensuring that the environment is not harmed through their practice.
Having entered into the arena of architectural practice after having gained education of it from prominent realms of education, including overseas experience, they acknowledge the need to have a diverse practice, which caters to the client’s need, adheres to their design principles and ensures economical and environmental benefits, as testified by their design of the health café.