Time travel, steampunk and botany inspire Victorian-themed Indian restaurant

by Kim Megson | 03 Aug 2016

A new Indian restaurant and cocktail bar has opened in London with a design that pays tribute to the scientists and botanists of the Victorian era and their explorations in the jungles of India.

Flora Indica, which opened at the weekend, is the latest dining and entertainment concept from designer Henry Chebaane and Blue Sky Hospitality, who recently opened London’s sci-fi tinged Asian restaurant Kojawan.

Walls and shelves of the restaurant are filled with authentic 19th century artefacts evoking adventurous tropical explorations, such as apothecary bottles, microscopes, looking glasses, walking canes, jars of plant specimens and original botanical prints.

In addition to its tropical flourishes, the design features examples of Steampunk style and lighting, industrial parts and custom-designed metalwork used by Victorian engineers such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel. This is juxtaposed with 21st century pop light fittings and luxury suiting fabrics.

“Victorian Britain is a fabulous treasure trove of scientific, artistic and literary works,” Chebaane told CLAD. “After reading dozen of books from the 19th century, I edited and condensed them into one narrative arc and developed an aesthetic language to design an experience relevant to today's youth, while also being inclusive to a more mature audience. The result is a mixture of Victorian fantasy and postmodernist design.”

The ground floor of Flora Indica is a cocktail bar with 30 seats, and a lower ground floor houses the 70-capacity restaurant and a second late night bar. An oak and iron staircase connects the two, and is incorporated with a huge sculpture of a Victorian time machine that could have been dreamt up by Victorian sci-fi author H.G. Wells.

The retro-futuristic contraption – which Chebaane calls the G.H.O.S.T – is manned by several dozen masked mice sculptures. In a typically surreal twist, the designer explains “they are diligently working on botanical distillation and vapour sublimation to be enjoyed later by guests in their food and drinks.”

“I think in large cities around the world consumers are becoming experience-gatherers rather than just accumulators of goods or a nice meal,” said the designer, who launched his own hospitality design brand in June.

“People are increasingly sophisticated and individual in their quest for experiences. For that reason, my dining concepts have to be rich in storytelling. They are semi-fictional universes with their own title, script, cast, stage, props and heroes.”

Flora Indica  henry Chebaane  Blue Sky Hospitality  time travel  steampunk  Victorians  H.G. Wells  London  restaurant design 
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A new Indian restaurant and cocktail bar has opened in London with a design that pays tribute to the scientists and botanists of the Victorian era and their explorations in the jungles of India. Flora Indica, which opened at the weekend, is the latest dining and entertainment concept from designer Henry Chebaane and Blue Sky Hospitality, who recently opened London’s sci-fi tinged Asian restaurant Kojawan. Walls and shelves of the
CLD,RST,ARC,DES,DEV
Stempunk influences run throughout the restaurant / Flora Indica
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