Designing a contemporary Indian restaurant is one thing, but Afroditi wanted to go a step further with the concepting, branding, design and experience for this project to create something totally unexpected – the result was Dishoom. Indian food is the nation’s favourite cuisine in the UK and most Indian restaurants look and feel pretty similar. This new concept vision had to be authentic not clichéd, modern but connected to Indian roots, and honest but not wedded to the usual conventions. The initial brief was to create a canteen-style kebab house, but following extensive research, and several invaluable trips to Mumbai, AfroditiKrassa masterminded an entirely new restaurant concept based on Bombay’s best kept secret: the Irani Cafés.
The vision was to create an immersive brand narrative that flowed flawlessly through service, menu, design, ambience and market positioning, with the studio leading the creative direction of all aspects that informed the final design. The brand identity pays respect to classic fonts, old school vignettes and the visual appeal of Hindi, with the refined interior combining elegant, sophisticated and simple lines with cues from Bombay’s art deco past. The checkerboard tiles, oak panelling, white Carrara marble topped tables and mismatched chairs create a relaxed, democratic café style space, in keeping with the tradition and ambience of the classic Bombay cafés. A strict, monochromatic colour palette has also been used throughout, in combination with retro Bombay portraiture and 60s graphical, pop imagery. Subtly exotic and classically urban, at the time of it’s launch, Dishoom was a far cry from other UK Indian restaurants, avoiding all the commonplace designs that come with the territory, yet respecting the overlooked beauty of everyday India. It quickly established itself as the category-leader paving the way for a wave of Indian concept restaurants looking to achieve similar success.