A Reinvention of India’s First Licensed Bar
In 2008, the legendary Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, which originally opened in 1903, asked for a long-term redevelopment master plan, including the redesign of the hotel’s historic Harbour Bar (India’s first licensed bar) and Wasabi Restaurant for Chef Morimoto. The goal was to express the project as an evolution of Harbour Bar’s original Art Deco design, rather than a rebuild, and to support the venue’s healing process after the 26/11 attacks by celebrating its design history. The interior brings together classic and modern elements in unexpected, fresh ways. Craftspeople from different regions of India were involved in the project and there is an emphasis on local materials. A solid carved piece of local white marble makes up the center bar, celebrating India’s rich tradition of carvings in stone. The intimate lounge also features marble flooring, Art Deco chairs, a carved glass back bar and glass lounge tables as well as silk area carpets with patterns inspired by the heritage building. The design team also assisted in the selection of art for the new spaces, a combination of works from the 1950s and 60s by Indian masters and newly commissioned works by emerging Indian artists. The interior’s classic side is contrasted with a contemporary and rather minimalist red staircase, which connects Harbour Bar with Wasabi.