Afraa in Kolkata has been redesigned by architect Kapil Bhalla of SE-ARCH

After a decade of popularity in Kolkata, the resto-lounge has been given a new look

When Afraa opened in 2008, it became a name that defined how one could classically complement the experience of a lounge and a restaurant within one space yet create distinct separate identities for both. Within a few months of its opening, it became a name to reckon with in the hospitality space in Kolkata. Ten years down the line, Ambuja Neotia have increased its “horse power” by giving the city a brand new Afraa in December 2018.

“The brief was simple - to reinstate Afraa in a timeless style that would appeal to a larger variety of customers. The cuisine was expected to be Mediterranean,” discloses architect Kapil Bhalla of SE-ARCH, who took on the challenge.

Black is the new white, is the reasoning behind the design concept of resto-lounge. “The meaning of Afraa is white, and it signifies purity – but in the beginning was the great void or the nothingness from which emerged creation. Therefore, the higher form of white is black,” explains Bhalla. “The new Afraa takes you to this bigger reality of re-defining lounging and authenticity of cuisine in its new avatar. “
Kolkata is a timeless city, growing in its own laidback way while still rooted to history and tradition. The design firm’s aim was to address this integral character in a way that every visitor would be comfortable, relaxed and have a pride of place. The stylisation was a distinctly inspired eclectic French setting – making double height spaces, and using a myriad colours, textures, hues and tones were some of the key aspects of the design.

There are various seating clusters for different lounging and dining needs. Patterns in flooring, fabric and fenestration are juxtaposed together in the midst of wall art of flora and fauna of the region. “The material is actually very organic and tastefully dated,” points out Bhalla. “In contrast, there is high technology in the lighting and audio-visual effects.”

The architect feels that the highlight of the design is “the connectivity of the vertical space and the pockets of privacy.” But the best tribute to his design comes from Harshavardhan Neotia, who says, “Kapil with his architectural vision and compelling sense of artistry has created something new and extraordinary into the existing matrix. His unique ability to conceptualise the look and feel of Afraa as a restro and lounge, by adhering to Mediterranean style of architectural motifs, dynamic colour and form and unique arrangements demonstrate a seamless synergy of outstanding mixed-use design. The decor infuses an artistic identity to the place and engages diners through the exploration of its unique connections to the European style of dining.”

The 6th Floor introduces the concept of a glass box, an air-conditioned deck that brings the outdoor inside and takes the night life in Kolkata outwards. The 7th floor boasts a global cuisine menu curated by chefs Sumanta, Chiranjib and Swarup. From West Africa to Spain, Italy and France and Greece to Morocco, comes a unique combination that adds up to an explosion of flavours. Afraa also prides itself on being a complete plastic-free restaurant, ISO certified and sustainable dining through organic produce.

Thanks to the neo-classical/Mediterranean interiors by Bhalla and the exclusive party corners within the larger space, Afraa is becoming the new destination for private gatherings, lounging and dining in Kolkata.

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