Sumessh Menon

Sumessh Menon Associates

1 Suwarnadeep,
Opp. Asha Parikh Hospital,
S. V. Road, Santacruz (W),
Mumbai - 400 052.
Tel. +91 022 2648 3311
+91 022 2605 5511


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Serving food with style & a touch of magic

‘Going out’ means more than simply leaving your house; its about jumping into another world –a place filled with fantasy and magic. A restaurant goer’s words quite aptly describe the experience of eating out. It is not merely the food, the taste, the variety and the décor. It’s about all of this and more. It’s a magical world and a fantastical experience which people seek out whenever they eat out. KOKO, the Contemporary Asian Gastro Pub recently opened in Mumbai’s Parel area seeks to reach you just there.  
In the heart of Mumbai’s commercial centre, at Kamala Mills, Lower Parel stand a multitude of restaurants,which have indeed made it a haute spot for trying and experimenting with a wide spectrum of cuisines. In this midst a new restaurant seeks  to catch an element of surprise and provide a unique “ the experience of eating out”.
KOKO does just that to make its presence felt. It is Henry Tham’s newest endeavour. The man who pioneered Asian cuisine in the city, and has over the last several years, conjured up innovative flavours that appeal to the Indian palate. A legend among connoisseurs, he has elevated Asian food into a fine art form. Now, the baton of taking forward this illustrious legacy has been passed on to his sons, Keenan and Ryan, both of whom have kept the flag of innovative cuisine flying high, with this latest endeavour, KOKO. With a renowned UK-based mixologist, Dmitri, to helm things at the bar and an international chef to take care of things in the kitchen, KOKO offers great food against an equally tasteful backdrop. One that has been carefully curated by the able team at Sumessh Menon Architects.

What is visible in this project is the design team’s ability to transfer an aesthetic sensibility according to the needs of the project and the client brief.
Thus you find KOKO has interiors that are at once, upscale and sophisticated, while being entirely one of a kind. Something which is evident when you lay eyes on the charming exposed-red-brick facade. The almost sculptural quality is down to the perforated bricks in an array of sizes and engraved with motifs, that make up the exterior wall. The bricks in a spectrum of hues, ranging from brown to red, cover the roof. It seems almost deceptively quaint, leaving you unprepared for the stunningly contemporary, interiors that lie behind the grand front door made of faceted bevelled glass with metal and wood.
The sprawling area of nearly 3,500 square feet consists of an outdoor seating area and a separate smoking zone. The minimalist space is masterfully crafted with a diverse selection of natural materials that seem disparate but build a cohesive design language throughout the space. The flooring dressed up in grey, white and yellow mosaic, was entirely custom-made in Jaipur and the massive columns are made of slate. Walk further inside and the mosaic gives way to chevron-patterned wooden flooring. Nothing, as Menon says, “was ready made”, and everything was sourced from India.
While one entire wall has been made out of Siporex, the ceiling is cladded in heavy wooden blocks that were originally 18- to 30-foot columns sourced from an old warehouse. Even the black Indian marble used on the staircase that leads to the washrooms and administrative offices on the level below was sourced from a quarry in south India. Twin private nooks at either end of the front door follow the curves of the glass exterior—and are perfect spots for an intimate party to enjoy a fine-dining experience.
A Unique Decor
While the restaurant is pan-Asian, Menon consciously stayed away from introducing too many typical south-east Asian elements or artefacts. When he did so, it was through hints of colour in the largely grey overtones. And in completely unexpected ways, staying away from the stereotype. Like the use of shadow art on the red wall. “Seven- to-eight-inch-tall Chinese warriors in different poses are placed on a shelf-like space on the wall” and are next to a DJ console, also painted red. Or the stunning feature wall to the left as soon as you enter. “That is a Reza-inspired creation, made of Siporex, wooden blocks and a solid glass block, which have been inscribed with abstract patterns.” The nod to the Chinese element is the Yin-and-Yang engravings on some of the blocks.
In a space that hits the high notes ever so often, with several elements that may vie for your attention, nothing can detract from the pièce de résistance—the 100-foot-long island bar. Made from locally sourced wood, the bar counter has abstract, fluidly formed resin-filled crevices that give it a distinctive texture. The apron has a three-dimensional look about it, covered as it is with cement-cast blocks in different patterns.

Elegantly Furnished
While Menon ensured the space had a rich expression of materials, he was as meticulous when it came to accessorizing. A collection of eclectic pieces furnish the interiors, where period furniture share space with clean-lined contemporary furniture. Yellow against a grey backdrop is the dominating colour palette, creating a stunning contrast. From colourful chairs to the sombre-looking bar stools to the lights, the selection is as thoughtful as it is artistic, and cleverly demarcates each area. The private nooks at the front are furnished with curved crown-like sofas with high backs. The furniture that occupies the main seating areas set a dramatic note, with blood-red tables in PU lacquer, tapering down to high-gloss coffee-coloured ones. The deeper you go into the space, the more the surprises. The dining area has three larger-than-life yellow velvet wing back chairs rest against the grey wall. The elevated private lounge area has a spectacular wall in diagonal Siporex blocks that transforms the entire wall into a work of art. The play of shadow, cast by the blocks, and the sculptural lights in the form of passion flower seem to change the texture of the space. The private dining area is a theatre to high style, and offsets the vestibule area going towards the kitchen. While Menon chose to go with blown-glass, teardrop lights over the bar–“they are like Indian Muranos”– he opted for artistic floral-inspired lights made of “crushed fabric paper” for the seating area. All lights are LED, ensuring that power is used responsibly. Similar floral-inspired pendant lights are used in the other seating areas, while the lounge area looks like a cascade of bulbs dropping down from the ceiling.
Every corner is completely distinctive and totally customized. The staircase going to the washrooms and the den, one level below, has a sculptural wall made out of polished red brick forming a screen filtering light. The washrooms follow a monochrome concept throughout in a red and brown tone for women’s and men’s respectively. What both have in common is a ceiling made entirely out of thin running strips of fabric. “We always wanted to do something like that somewhere and we got a chance to with this space.” And while it is all one-of-a-kind, there is one element that has become a Sumessh Menon trademark—the uniquely shaped backlit mirror.
KOKO is as much about the ambience as it is about the food—and the Tham’s signature. It is has been interpreted perfectly with a design that will evoke appreciation.

About Designer
Architect Sumessh Menon’s work ranges from residential to hospitality spaces.His recent projects include a home that he designed in South Africa and ongoing Dubai homes. His repertoire of restaurants includes high-end dining spaces across the country and around the world, from Mumbai, Delhi and Pune to New York. In fact, it was a visit by Ryan Tham to one of the New York restaurants designed by Menon that prompted him to get the architect on board for Koko.
He describes his expreince of working on this project as “I don’t reference anything that I have done previously for a new space. It needs to be a completely clean slate, getting back to the beginning of sorts, and creating something I have never done before ”.
He is currently in the process of designing many more restaurants across Mumbai.