Vintage, beach, futuristic, homely or even artsy—cafés across India have been upping their game with exciting themes and refreshing creativity.
While good food is definitely a crowd-puller; ambience and interior décor are also not far behind.
Sustainability is another trend that is becoming popular in Indian cafés. With their vertical gardens, zero plastic and even second-hand furniture, these joints not only give their customers a good culinary experience but also ensure that they do not leave behind a carbon footprint.
But how often do you come across one which—in a stunning union of unusual and sustainable—is made up entirely of cardboard?
Well, if you are a resident from Mumbai, you might already know the café in question. But, for those who don’t, we are talking about Cardboard, India’s first cardboard café!
Located in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), the design concept of Cardboard quite literally explores out-of-the-box thinking. Its entire interior landscape, including furniture, light fixtures, signage as well as the menu card and bill and cutlery boxes, have been made using, well, cardboard.
Through an immersive cardboard experience, Cardboard advocates the usage of environment-friendly products and renewable materials, with combating climate change and global warming as their frontrunner objective.
Conceived and designed by architect Nuru Karim of NUDES, the café was brought to life by Amit and Bhavna Dhanani of BAD Management in collaboration with Shilpa Tulaskar and Vishal Shetty from Thyme & Reason Hospitality.
“It was Nuru Karim, our architect who brought the idea to us and together we decided it was something we were interested in pursuing. Nuru’s style is very explorative and very sculptural, and it was something he had in mind for a long time. The project was extremely collaborative—Nuru and his team at NUDES designed the space including the various furniture and elements (many of which use parametric modelling), and Haresh Mehta of Jayna Packaging brought it to life,” the café partners say to The Better India.
Additionally, Cardboard’s cohesive branding and design is by illustrator Tanya Eden, who created the whimsical logo mascot and innovative packaging to give customers a sense of recall.
So, why cardboard?
“Cardboard is a 100% recyclable and renewable material and is primarily made up of 50% air. That void, texture and corrugation have been used to fabricate various furniture and elements. It is also very durable, lightweight, insulating and exhibits excellent sound absorption properties making it extremely acoustic-friendly,” they explain.
Furthermore, they mention that introducing cardboard into the glass centric architecture of BKC is both a statement and a small step towards creating a more sustainable community, where conversations and dialogues revolve around protecting the earth’s natural resources responsibly.
It took the team about four months of prototyping before they moved into the space, after which, they spent three-and-half months building it.
The material used in the café has been tested through vigorous prototyping to address functionality and durability. The tabletops have been wax laminated to prevent water or food from affecting the material.
“Cardboard is one of those versatile materials that we experience in our everyday lives, but rarely employ in contemporary design. Building with cardboard meant constant exploration and investigation of the material. NUDES approached the material as a student would—diving into research and prototyping that included creating digital and analogue models,” they explain.
Regarding the economic factors behind the project, the founders tell us that the decision to work with Cardboard wasn’t just for cost-saving purposes.
“More than just making a statement, we wanted to showcase that it’s possible to be playful and make a difference. Also, sustainable materials should be the norm on projects of such scale,” they explain.
So, how well has the public received the café?
“People are very intrigued and curious because they haven’t seen a concept like this before. It is a very tactile space, so the customers also love to touch its various elements and look closely at how things are made. It helps that the food and coffee are also getting good reviews, so they get a good reason to return,” they conclude.
We are already in love with Cardboard for its refreshingly original idea. If you are in Mumbai, you must visit this café and if you are planning a trip there, do make sure that you include it in your itinerary!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)