Taste of India
Chapman & Chapman Architecture & Interior Design adds subtle Indian flavor into the design scheme for Tamarind.
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 10/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
A number of New York's upscale Asian cuisine restaurants feature designs that literally translate ethnic and cultural identities. But Tamarind, an Indian fare establishment in the Flatiron district, does not follow suit. The restaurant's owner, Avtar Walia, comes from the old school of traditional Indian cuisine, while executive chef Raji Jallepalli-Reiss has an au courant approach, creating both the popular basics and reinventing some as fusion dishes. In the same fashion, New York-based Chapman & Chapman Architecture & Interior Design sought to incorporate both the traditional and the modern in Tamarind's 2,750-sq.-ft. space.
The layout, inspired by Indian town streets that lead to open courts, includes a main dining area flanked by raised platforms, with framed mirror niches suggesting windows onto imaginary courtyards beyond. Small wooden prayer paddles screen these symbolic "windows," while framed colorful strips of Indian textiles hang above banquettes. "The idea was to take something that's fairly literal, identify it as an artifact, and then frame it in a way to make it contemporary and abstract," says firm principal Wid Chapman.
While the layout and wall décor loosely links the restaurant to its cultural roots, the rest of Tamarind's design is completely American modern and cosmopolitan, utilizing a neutral color palette and materials such as stained hickory wood, sandstone, and acrylic. Custom pendant and wall lighting— simple geometrical silk- or fabric-wrapped shapes—figure prominently in the spaces. "Our lights cross between architecture and decoration and are more about ambience and rhythm," says Chapman.
As no Indian restaurant, whether traditional or modern, would be complete without a Tandoori kitchen, Tamarind offers a glimpse into its traditional clay oven via large windows. "Tandoori is a unique kind of cooking. We're celebrating it in this windowed box," says Chapman.
The design team also included Meg Chapman, Eric Daniels, Suzi Winstanley, and Welkhenia Martinez.