Voted by Wallpaper as one of the best restaurant designs of 2011, The Tote, in Mumbai, India, is a conversion of an abandoned colonial-era building located inside the Mumbai Race Course. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the restaurant is not its colonial setting, but the outdoor spaces shaded by slender rainforest foliage that provide an interesting setting for dining under the trees.
The renovation of the restaurant was overseen by the British architectural firm Serie, and local conservation policy required that a quarter of the building be preserved and inherited, while the remaining three-quarters of the building retained its roof profile. As a result, the profile of the new restaurant, built inside the old colonial building, was born.
The designers, Chris Lee and Kapil Gupta, were inspired by the rain tree, and almost all of the restaurant’s design was inspired by outdoor elements.
The structure of the restaurant is based on the idea of tree branching, with white branches spread throughout the space, and the real branches of the outdoors connecting with those of the interior. The novel design makes people feel as if they are in a sea of trees.
The restaurant’s complex tree-like structure defines the separate dining spaces (bar, dining room, preparation and banqueting areas). The upper levels of the interior are intricately covered with three-dimensional wood panels that abstractly express the texture of the intertwining tree branches.
The designer’s intent is to reflect every small detail of the design, and the darker spaces are also creative and layered, so that the entire restaurant design is not monotonous.