Colours of Brooklyn

  • A/ID Firm: The Orange Lane

  • Project: The Brooklyn
    Shuffle, Pune

  • Information & Images:
    Courtesy – The Orange lane

  • Content Curator:
    Team India Art n Design

  • Referencing American Classicism as a thematic and RGB mode (Red-Green-Blue) as the rule of thumb, Mumbai-based design studio, The Orange Lane headed by principal designer Shabnam Gupta brings NYC’s Brooklyn to Pune city.

    Eccentric, colour-doused, urbane and energetic, The Brooklyn Shuffle, as it is aptly christened, is a carefully crafted exercise in contemporary and retro elements that speak volumes of Brooklyn, or shall we say, subtly hint at American music, theatre and literature.

  • Establishing a Thematic

    Taking a cue from the colours of the American flag – red and blue – the restaurant integrates a retro diner into a contemporary cafe in a typical 1980s ambience. The existing old-world styled, vernacular structure with sloping roof and double-height ceiling, a seamless mezzanine and large, expansive windows, is treated with discerningly chiseled material and colour palettes to evolve into a stylized upbeat hang-out that succeeds in surprising its visitors.

    Interestingly, the designer has used just three primary colours - red, green and blue (RGB) - in their deepest hues to bring alive the theme of the cafe. And it is a colour palette that has stood the test of time.

  • Colours of America in RGB mode

    The colours of the American flag - red and blue - are in fact a design element that one will notice across the café, whether one sits outdoors in the covered patio or indoors in the air-conditioned space.

    Beginning at the entrance, one is welcomed by a splash of colours: bright blue bicycle wheels mounted on a pole on one side of the sloping-roof cafe and three colourful surfboards - one with the Statue of Liberty painted on it, another in the colours of the American flag and the third with green graffiti firmly sunk into a sandpit, on the other side.

  • Despite RGB dominating the space, the place does not appear overpowered as the schematic is broken by large black-and-white chequered floor tiles carpeting the centre of the cafe. Although the colour palette was borrowed from the American flag, the idea wasn’t to use it in a conventional style; hence, the flooring is largely monochromatic.

  • While red and blue have been primarily used for furniture and as highlighting splashes on textured walls to give a dimension to the place; green has been used in flooring, wall-mounted artefacts, hanging lights, coloured glass bottles on shelves; to ensure the deep hues do not overpower the eatery. Large windows overlooking the private green garden sustain this thought. Black and white, meanwhile, add neutrality to the design, and makes the primary colours stand out. The limited but attractive colour palette has been used to its full advantage and adds strength to the well-thought-out design.

  • Adding Quirkiness

    At one end of the restaurant, the white glazed-tiled bar counter feels easy on the eyes, while the concrete wall behind and classical writings above, add to the vintage quotient of the cafe. Adding colour to the counter is Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover - infant Spencer Elden reaching out for a dollar bill - a photograph that went on to become one of the most iconic images of 1990s music of America. Several such pop culture references in catchy colours add to the quirkiness of the cafe.

  • A major challenge that the designers faced was to ensure that the two levels, under the umbrella of a double-height ceiling, are seamless yet distinct in their personalities. Hence, the designers took a conscious call to treat the walls with different textures and colours. The graffiti, textured brick wall and the Parsi railing add volume and flavour to the space, while the exposed white ceiling augments the retro feel, giving rise to the imaginary scenario of sitting in a New York subway with low, slightly-arched roof panels.

  • Colour as Props

    Shelves full of coloured glass bottles, napkin stands in red and blue, baseball bats and gloves as wall hangings, a graffiti wall, splashes of colour on other brick walls, shelves of Campbell soup tins, 1980’s stereo and coke canisters; make for strategic highlights and contribute to the feel of being in a local eatery in Brooklyn.

    From the very start, The Orange Lane has believed that a spatial sense of design should also flow to the furniture, artefacts etc. Hence, in some areas, the furniture reflects the typical American diner style with the red booths, and old school wooden chairs and tables that compliment the black and white flooring.

  • Brooklyn, being the most populous of the five New York boroughs, is home to many cultures and ethnic communities, including African American, Hispanics, Latinos, Caribbean Americans and Asian Americans. This characteristic inspired the designers to colourfully paint a beautiful African-American lady and a flamboyant Spanish singing star on the walls.

  • The ghetto-type graffiti is also a characteristic trait that dominates the streets of Brooklyn and has been well used in the cafe. Brooklyn Shuffle isn’t Shabnam’s first tryst with colour and art. In fact, they infuse art in almost every design possible. For them, art and colour is an integral part of design, says the principal designer.

  • Order in chaos

    Interestingly, ‘order in chaos’ is something that both Brooklyn and Mumbai share in common in terms of planning and design. The difference in furniture reflects just that, explains Shabnam. Rexine diner seats and sofas in colours of the American flag, metal-topped tables, mismatched wooden chairs with blue cushions and ‘unfinished’ but finished walls are all a reflection of that thought process.

    The cafe is a perfect blend of rustic and stylish design that gives it an edgy, fun and airy appeal through its strong and detailed colour sensibilities.