In its first international F&B project, Studio Lotus brings a strikingly vibrant expression that uses Indian artisanal craft to populate a contemporary shell in the exciting new La Mer district in Dubai. The first licensed restaurant at La Mer Dubai, Masti Cocktails & Cuisine presents a unique concept of Indian-inspired global cuisine. The idea behind Masti as an F&B destination is to create culinary stories about New India: keeping the soul inherently Indian, but with contemporary twists to engage the evolving palettes of a globally-aware audience, that would appeal to a melding hub like Dubai. The takeaway, while authentic to its roots, builds on its name through a progressive, spirited and fresh vibe. The vision for the project was to make it a modern and contemporary destination, that is bold, vibrant and buzzing with energy, much like the nation that inspires the concept. The challenge of interpreting the brand through a signature design was to capture the vibrancy of the culture without being cliched or kitschy, through fun, yet meaningful elements that would substantiate the narrative set out as a brief. Derived from its name, Masti – meaning fun and mischief in Hindi, itismeant to be infused with all the personality of India, without any of the clichés. Set against a vibrant palette of colours, therefore,the space is dotted with modern expressions of Indian art, craft and architecture. The experience itself is made playful with whimsical elements such as the hand-crafted stained-glass elephant bar, the inlayed marble games tables, and quirky graphic prints on the cushions and upholstery, all inspired by the Indian narrative. Inhabiting a site that solely accommodates the restaurant, a two-storied beachfront property captures stunning views of the Arabian Gulf and the city skyline. The functional brief to Studio Lotus was the interiors for the 8,000-sqft program comprising an all-day dining, bar, evening lounge, private dining room and Gin Room across an equal mix of indoor-outdoor spaces, with a seating capacity of about 200.A comprehensive concept blueprint by hospitality consultants Meraki & Modus gave the design team of Studio Lotus a detailed brief and understanding of what the brand aspired to achieve with the central idea being, that the identity, food and space come together as an integrated impactful experience. With the program clearly defining distinct day and night spaces, the core design approach has been to create a series of zones that would segregate each experience as one moves through them.The premise of the brand name gave the design team playful grounds to build upon, with colourful quirky elevated takes of Indian influences running as a common thread between the interiors. The building has two entries, one from the beach and the other from the valet parking. Each entry is defined by an arched pavilion, wallpapered in vivid green, to heighten the sense of arrival. Punctuated with multiple coloured chandeliers sourced from India, a double-height volume that is accessed from the parking side, leads to the evening spaces on the upper level, while the lower level is kept primarily for the day-time experience. The kitchen occupies a sizeable part of the ground floor, with a small portion of it, the Tandoor, which is animated as a live counter. The beachfront entry opens into this theatre of the Tandoor, which also entices people passing by. The all-day dining space on the ground floor takes cues from its hours of usage, with a bright palette and low lounge furniture. Much like the ethos of Masti, the key design approach applies a refined recall of Indian inspirations. The reinterpretation of the Juice Bar, typically seen in the markets of India, as a crafted insert in white marble mosaic, brass and wood is one such instance. The view towards the beach has been maximised with a sprawling deck overlooking it,with an inwards-looking indoor space.Tilted mirrors are strategically positioned to reflect the shoreline and capture views. Further, the glazed edges open up to craft a seamless experience between the inside and outside; a feature that has been repeated on the first floor. As one moves to the upper level into the evening areas, the connotations and colours take on deeper and more dramatic hues, reciprocating the shift in the momentum of activities. Handcrafted in stained glass, green quartzite and wood, a massive Elephant Bar, with the namesake, 3D centrepiece fabricated in India, anchors the story of the first floor. Setting the precedent for exaggerated spinoffs of flora and fauna, most associated with the country, different mediums imaginatively align the fun quotient of the brand, such as the DJ backdrop hand-painted by the client Pallav Patel and the monkey wallpaper in the restrooms. A combination of high cocktail tables and low-seating, balances the loosely structured layout of the first floor; with an arched brass chandelier canopy that highlights the dining banquette. The terrace has baithak-inspired seating with panoramic views of the beachfront. Arched green screens create further sub-zones to delineate the change in experiences. Miniature art, textile motifs and popular local games such as Ludo have been skilfully woven into the narrative, through table top inlays and environmental graphics. An exclusive aspect of the design program, the deep blue Gin Room discreetly cuts away from the first floor to curate a more elite experience. A series of brass arches marks the entry into this luxurious space, which also tucks in a private dining room, with a view of Dubai’s skyline. Forming its main feature, a long shelving unit with brass lattice shutters stores a world-class selection of gin in vintage decanters. A rich lotus and swan motif, developed by Toile Indienne, on velvet cushions and as tarkashi (wire) work on tables introduces a quirky element into the plush palette of dark timber, brass and parquet flooring, thus distinguishing it from typical gin rooms and adding it to the sequence of stories- identifying with the notion of Masti. The ground floor is a textured blue shell against which, all other elements sit. With a busier backdrop of the Elephant Bar, the first floor shell is kept grey with negative spaces and is highlighted with a matt gold line drawing borrowed from the stained glass patterns. Hand- glazed tiles and handcrafted brass basins accentuate the restrooms. Simple brass spacers laid as a grid into poured concrete floors offset the visual drama of the interiors. A more intricate Kolam-inspired pattern defines the flooring pattern at the entry pavilions. Designed in collaboration with Studio Lotus, the furniture has been crafted by Mangrove Collective. The decorative lighting has been conceptualised and fabricated by Studio Lotus in collaboration withAyushKasliwal. Masti Dubai has recently won the Prix Versailles Special Prize for Restaurant Interiors in the Africa and West Asia region. Partnered by UNESCO and the International Union of Architects, the World Architecture Award recognizes exceptional architecture and design for Stores, Hotels and Restaurants.