A fine dine restaurant in Mumbai designed by Seedle by DC Group celebrates Parsi cuisine
Jumjoji, which translates to – come, let’s eat, showcases the community's culture, heritage and style
Though they are faced with a bleak future of a dwindling populace, the Parsi community is an integral and crucial part of the foundation, development and existence of Bombay/Mumbai. A subsequent fallout of this sad societal trend, is the shutting down of many of their food-related establishments that were predominantly located in South Mumbai. So, it comes as a fresh whiff of ‘dhansak’ (a famous Parsi lentil-based dish) that, barely a stone’s throw away from the international airport in the suburbs of Mumbai, this elegant Parsi fine dine restaurant named ‘Jumjoji’ is making its delicious presence felt amidst all the culinary clutter that the city has been experiencing.
Jumjoji, which translates to – come, let’s eat, is a space that encapsulates the warmth of a people that take great pride in culture, heritage and style. The design has heavy inflections of a bygone era of colonial gymkhanas, with wood-panelled walls acting as a perfect classical counterpoint to the ornate chandeliers that sparkle from the ceiling. Seedle by DC Group, which has been in the architecture and interiors game for the last 30 years, is responsible for the design and execution of this restaurant situated in the JW Marriot hotel’s Orb mall.
“Being a Parsi myself, this project is actually very close to me personally because of my own heritage,” says Malcolm Daruwalla, principal architect, Seedle by DC Group. “For us, creating a new restaurant is very much like making a new painting. There are a lot of thoughts and emotions that go into it. With the brief that we were given, of a Parsi restaurant, it was important for us to create a sense of authenticity to give customers the most real experience of the culture. Parsi homes always feature natural materials – and so, it was an easy decision to use wood as a major element in our design plan. Warm lighting and patterned floors are signature elements in Parsi style. Inclusion of all these elements makes the space feel subtle but grand. We wanted to make sure that we enhance the Parsi experience that the client wanted to offer.”
The brief from the client was simple – to create a space that felt authentic, where the Parsis can bond with their family and friends and feel proud to talk and experience the culture. It also needed to be ‘posh and comfortable’. The challenge of designing a restaurant within a mall is often the lack of space. Since fine dine, grandeur and elegance would be the operative words for the design of Jumjoji – it was imperative to strike the right balance between keeping the feel of spaciousness in the restaurant while still trying to fit in a large enough number of ‘covers’ to make the restaurant economically viable.
The restaurant is divided into four general areas – waiting, dining, bar and entertainment, all of which flow seamlessly into each other. “The first thing we noticed was how long and linear the space was,” reveals the architect. “The space was perfect for the placement of the bar. As a Parsi restaurant, the bar is an important aspect of the space and we wanted to make sure that it is placed in a way that allows customers to view it from every part of the restaurant.” The large mural behind the bar area depicts the essence of Parsi culture from the colonial times of the country, while some of the other walls narrate actual recipes and facts. Peppered across the deep brown wood panelling are a collection of small quirky elements that feature frames of sayings and famous personalities from the Parsi community. The furniture, chandeliers, sculpture and graphics are all created in-house by the designer’s team of craftsmen, artists and fabricators.
The study and playing of music is usually a big part of any Parsi upbringing. They have produced some world-famous stars in the realm of music, like Freddie Mercury and Zubin Mehta – to name just a couple. So, finding a piano taking pride of place in every Parsi home would not be amiss. Jumjoji has a grand piano that steals the spotlight next to the bar. “The most integral part of the restaurant was the placement of the grand piano. We wanted to place it where everybody can see the magic happen, whether they’re at the bar or seated at any table without being too obstructive.”
Once these elements had been visualised and set, the designer focused on other aspects – like different types of seating. “We have tried to position our seating in such a way that, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, your experience in the restaurant would be enhanced,” explains Daruwalla. “We wanted to make it a point to even specifically design the waiting area and showcase the culture there as well. Considering the digital age we are in, we wanted to create a space where people could get the most perfect instagram-worthy pictures that they are looking for.“
With authenticity as its anchor, the restaurant has the right balance for a fun yet old-world charm experience. In its ambience and food, Jumjoji acts as perfect amuse bouche to the Parsi way of life. A space of comfort and elegance that echoes the ethos of a people.