Nice Niche

April, 2016


Niche Restaurant in Delhi designed by Sumeet Nath, redefines space with tidy corners and a distinct space.
Not many restaurants live up to their name. Niche, the recently-launched Bistro & Bar in New Delhi´s upmarket Connaught Place, does in every niche of its 9,000 sq ft space spread over two floors. A large wooden door opens into an absolutely brown space with a set of Thailand-sourced high chairs on left and a bar counter in front. Dark brown holds sway in the bar area which creates a niche for itself as high-seating area distinct from other neatly divided space of the restaurant. The bar counter is dark, so are the walls where miniature sculpted men hanging from ropes add a hint of intrigue.

High-five for high seats
A few steps from the high-seating area and Niche suddenly changes colour. The dark environment of the bar makes way for the blue of the sky that peeps through a high atrium made of 12mm hardened glass sheets held together with green bars. 10-12 mm glass sheets are sandwiched with a 12mm space filled with argon gas and topped with another 12mm sheet making the atrium extremely sturdy and heat proof. The lower end of the atrium glass ceiling is rimmed with brown leather chesterfield made of 6-8 inch foam with a quilted look. This niche has brown furniture with white canvas upholstery. On the left of the dining area is a stage for live gigs with a black back wall lit with very fascinating cube-shape lights sourced from Dubai.

A word-y wall
What catches the eye in the atrium area is a 11x8 ft three-sided wall with words arranged vertically. The basic material of the letters is wood but they are topped with different materials ´ acrylic, wood, paint, cloth, canvas, paper. A few of them have prints, others monochromatic. For Tarun Arora, the owner, this wall was the most difficult ´to get it right´. The wall was torn down three times; he repeatedly brainstormed with graphic designer Aditi Sood, who has done the branding for Niche. With a degree in Mathematics from UC Berkeley, Tarun has an idea about symmetry and logic, but the unusual wall did challenge Tarun´s patience.

Wide columns covered in slate separate the atrium area from the two private dining rooms. Not rooms, actually, but very tidily demarcated areas with plush sofas, a tall lamp with cricket bats as legs, fireplace, and black/white framed photographs of musical legends adding a touch of class to the corner PDRs. The back door open into a 400 sq ft 30-seater open air space with a very casual décor. The front terrace has rattan furniture with orange cushions and carries forward the grey vitrified tiled flooring from the main area.

A flight of grey granite staircase leads one to the third-floor terrace which again has been divided into neat corners for privacy and convenience.

No sound, please
Housed in the crowded Connaught Place, Niche is absolutely sound proof. For Tarun this was extremely important and he was ready to sacrifice 8 inches off every wall to not let sound travel out of the walls. Sound engineers used multiple layers of foil, foam, glass, MDF boards, tech sheets and a 10mm gap to make the restaurant sound-proof.

From around the world
For Tarun, Niche has been a labour of love. Having started work in 2012, construction had to be halted several times due to municipal laws. But he was not ready to give up his dream of creating a very specific niche. Both literally and metaphorically. He hired New Delhi-based Studio Us firm for design and interiors. For furniture, he travelled to China, Thailand and the Philippines; the sculpted hanging men came from London; from Dubai he picked up the cricket bat lamp and the cube lights on the stage back wall. Colours were not adding to the confusion, because Tarun, who calls blue his favourite colour, had very early decided on the grey-brown palette. No second thoughts on that.

In Niche, design is not merely about aesthetics, it brings along a repeat value. Because of its various niches, one can step into the restaurant 7-8 times, occupy a different corner and get an entirely different feel every time. Brown/grey rule the 9,000 sq ft space, yet there is no colour monotony. As Tarun says, ´Niche is about various niches through which I want to create a niche in the restaurant sector.´ Niche surely lives up to its name.

Total Area: 9,000 sq ft
Text: Preeti Verma Lal
photos: Anshuman Sen
Niche Lounge & Bistro, 2nd & 3rd Floor, M-16, Outer Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi - 110 001.
Contact: 9599289970/73