A Metropolis In A Cafe

Cyber Hub Social is Mumbai in a nutshell – it presents the city’s cacophonous collection of colours, art, and festive spirit through a carefully laid out scheme composed of upcycled materials.

Being inside Cyber Hub Social must seem like standing in the midst of the food stalls at a village fair. The place is stuffed full of colours, lamps, and details, making it imperative to take time and look around to understand its full glory. Admittedly inspired by the urban unruliness of Mumbai, the café is unabashedly eclectic, flaunting its calculated confusion with pride. The direct visual cue comes from the ubiquitous ‘chawl’ housing style that dots the city. “There are corrugated sheets, or chajjas, on the exterior and the interiors; wooden railings on the sides; black-and-white photographs that give a 60s effect on the walls; chairs in the shade of orange-black, in tune with Social’s logo; and vitrified tiles on the bar counter that conjure the ruggedness of a low-cost housing model,” states the team from Chromed Design Studio, which was led by architect Abhigyan Neogi.

The magic of the interiors is in the surprises they inhabit. The careful unevenness of the layout plays with your senses constantly, helped along by a brilliant lighting scheme composed of naked bulbs, planters that have now become lamps, some antique pieces, and also lamps sporting small table-cloths of their own. Lots of obsolete items stand about – look out for a cassette-player, an old television set, a clunky old metal table-fan, and that beloved aluminium tea kettle – making the café resemble one of those homes where time has stood still and whose residents refuse to discard its reminders.  

The central courtyard space, accessed through a narrow passageway meant to ape a Mumbai ‘galli’, holds the smaller seating area and the bar. The former features small carom-board tables and simple metal chairs, while the latter is an eye-catching long platform with back-lit, wall-length shelfing. This section is a visual delight, with all the glassware throwing back whimsical reflections of the dim yellow lighting and that lovely bunting which festoons the ceiling.

Keeping up with the theme of artistic recreation of reality using upcycled materials, the outdoor section features concrete hume-pipes with the seating affixed inside, and its walls resplendent in graffiti colours. “The anti-design theme runs right through the Cyber Hub Social’s décor,” affirms the team. The 5,000 sq. ft. sprawl of the café also features homey sections of seating, defined by scuffed wooden detailing, patchwork sofa sets, and an assortment of show-pieces that together make them feel like living rooms. Then there is an excellent chawl room-like section, with patrons invited sit on a bed and dine atop a floating slab table. Also present is a cosy double-decker corner, perfect for unconventional dinner dates.

Kota covers the lobby floor, while pandamo and terrazzo is found in the corridors. There is also plentiful patterned tile detailing all around, along with wallpapers and exposed brick. There is a meeting room-cum-co-working space here as well.

This café maybe located in Gurugram, but its heart beats for the contradictory visual realities of faraway Mumbai.  

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