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Thematic Theories: Shabnam Gupta

Posted by
on June 16, 2014 at 04:15 PM

Themes – especially intriguing and dramatic ones – have always been most popular in the hospitality sector; as clients and designers both seek to create innovative and charming spaces. Shabnam Gupta, a young and talented Mumbai-based designer, experiments with varied themes in the projects she has done in the hospitality sector. Jimmy Hu and The Big Nasty are two bars featured here.  

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There has been a surge in the hospitality sector – despite the economic lull all around. Restaurants, pubs, lounges and cafes have mushroomed all over the country; particularly over the past decade. Therefore hospitality design, as a design genre, has undergone maximum evolution. New concepts have emerged, and designers are seen experimenting with new materials and techniques; to create innovative and stylish decors that will retain their charm over time. Clients too are allowing a lot more creative freedom to the designers – as the mortality rate of restaurants is also high. 

An extremely talented designer, with an eye for details, Shabnam Gupta is emerging as a strong player in the hospitality sector. The Orange Lane, as her firm is called, creates soulful and eclectic designs with lots of experimentation in each project; and keeps reinventing their design sense. Starting with understanding the client’s requirement, the design team move on to creating design concepts in sync with the client’s brief. First cut presentations and layouts are proposed, followed by material boards. The firm has seen consistent growth with the motto – ‘change is the only constant’. 

Shabnam completed her Diploma in Interior Designing in 1994, and after working with various architects and designers, she started her own firm The Orange Lane in 2003. A passion for furniture and accessories saw her setting up a retail store called The Peacock Life in Mumbai in 2010; and another in Pune in 2013. The store concept has caught on and she is in talks for starting more outlets across the country and even internationally.     

The Orange Lane brings to each project a fresh and innovative approach, with a strongly eclectic/rustic décor style; appropriate to the client’s brief and needs. Their client profile includes celebrities from the world of movies and television, as well as corporate honchos, hoteliers and businessmen; with some very interesting projects in residential, corporate and hospitality sectors.

The focus here is on two open-only-by-night bars, with unusual themes – Jimmy Hu and The Big Nasty!


Jimmy Hu

A typical bar with a small eats menu, located in an upmarket suburb of Pune, the 2560 sq ft space has a subtle but distinctive Asian feel; with several bursts of green and red. Since the space is quite centrally located and has many passersby, the outdoor area overlooking the main street, has been visually screened. This was done by intricately stringing natural rough-cut stone on high-tension strings as a curtain.



The vibrant-coloured barrels on either side of the bar with Asian writings, recycled doors and windows created a floor to ceiling installation to house the DJ within the top of the installation itself and to camouflage one of the doors that lead to the washroom. Other than the installations there were inspirational forms picked from the entire Asian continent like allas scooped from the walls, bamboos tied together with red prayer flags. Traditional Kerala Koulu for the exterior bar artwork encompassing the soulful flavours.

The Big Nasty

This 1750 sq ft bar was based on a concept to create a strong masculine space with an industrial type of material palette and then put in some big and nasty features. The monkey wall, the great big mean shark suspended over a concrete table with giant fossil embossing, the sari ball corner and The Big Nasty dinosaur are some of the elements contributing to the nasty look.


The seating at The Big Nasty has been broken down into a free standing area near the bar, the sari ball wall seating along the periphery and fixed bench seating in the middle of the space. Space optimization came through with booth seating on either side of the central mesh partition.



The fact that the site was on the second floor of a fully ready and partially functional building made access very difficult. The entire entry way from the main gate of the building right up till the entry to the bar is lined with plants and street-style graffiti.

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