Serving the Hospitality Segment: SMA

Sumessh Menon & Associates (SMA) has become synonymous with designing trendy and theme-based restaurants across India. We look at the man behind the firm and some of his more recent projects. By Amrita Shah

Sumessh Menon & Associates, SMA, founded by Sumessh Menon over a decade ago, is an architectural and professional interior design firm that specialises in restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as luxury homes. The firm is now synonymous with funky eateries across India. Menon has received accolades as one of India’s Top 10 Hospitality Designers and is featured in India’s Hot 100 list of designers.

“I have been blessed to have worked on almost 180 restaurants all over India,” says Sumessh.

He fondly remembers his first hospitality projects in New York. “The first restaurant I ever designed was a modern Indian place in The Village about 17 years ago – a real hole in the wall! Plan B remains one of my favourite projects. It was a Spanish eatery in Soho that I poured my heart into. Everything was shipped from India and we had containers full of stuff coming in – from huge chandeliers, furniture to printed panels of plywood. It really is a reminder of where we have come from.”

“People come to bars and restaurants with expectations – it’s all about the overall experience, not just the food and drink,” says Sumessh Menon.

Sumessh has come along way since then. SMA has been executing projects around the world and have recently completed work in Dubai, South Africa and Bahrain. At the moment the firm is wrapping up a couple of lavish villas in Dubai’s La Mer Jumeirah, a rooftop bar in Bangkok and another in Bangalore’s Marriott hotel.

Sumessh explains that although the firm has two verticals – hospitality and luxury homes, he is partial to working on restaurants and bars that celebrate quirky and experimental ideas.

“People come to bars and restaurants with expectations – it’s all about the overall experience, not just the food and drink. Creating the right ambience is essential, else the place will just not be in the game,” he says from experience.

In majority of the hospitality projects designed by SMA, the bar is normally the hero of the space and is treated as such – whether it is a 20-foot-high bar as in La Cena, or the 100-foot-long bar at Koko with a counter made of locally sourced wood with all the crevasses filled with resin.

Sumessh gives a couple of insights to designing a restaurant / bar. He says, “Always focus on the layout. The design will flow, but a smart layout makes a successful restaurant. And remember – lighting can make or break a place.”

The firm pays special attention to the lighting and prides itself on the fact that all light fixtures in their hospitality projects are customised. The team works with artisans, sculptors, welders and lighting designers to create one-of-a-kind pieces for each of the projects, using a plethora of materials ranging from fabric and fiber glass to wood and metal.

The restaurants, bars and cafes created by SMA do transport patrons to another zone and create a dining experience that they have never had before. It’s safe to say that the projects executed by SMA are truly one of a kind.

Organic & Flowy Forms


The tone for Takumi is set as a 100% Asian experience from the get go. A statue of a warrior complete with samurai sword stands under a Japanese-style torii gate at the entrance, her face a picture of calm and her hands placed in namaste as if to greet patrons.

For the interiors of Takumi, Sumessh adhered to the client brief of categorically avoiding all hard angles and incorporated organically flowing forms and curves where possible.

Reds and greys dominate the space: from the marble flooring to the upholstery, to the customised suspended lights that were inspired by x-ray films, and depict Asian motifs in a fiery tones, and the burgundy hued wall punctured with squircles (a square with curved edges) that wraps around the space.

Glimpses of greenery give an indication of the more casual outdoor seating area with customized cane lighting and green marble foor.

 Location: Santacruz, Mumbai​

Area: 3,500 sq ft​

Date of Completion: ​January 2024

Photography Credits: Courtesy of Takumi 

Its all in the Drama

La Cena  

With La Cena, the designers were asked to create a never-seen-before high energy bar and nightclub with a dramatic and artistic vibe. The team created a 25-foot-tall-façade in pre-cast concrete panels that led into a lobby with larger than life installations.

The main restaurant space has an incredible volume with its 25-foot-high-ceiling, and is dominated by a clover-leaf shaped bar with intricate marble detailing overseen by a gargoyle sitting against the 20 foot high red coloured back bar wall which displays bottles.

Jewel tones were used lavishly – burgundy on the walls, emerald green and deep blue seating, with highlights of dull gold and brass and in some of  the murals on the walls.

Location: Centrum Business Park, Thane  

Area: 9,000 sq ft 

Date of completion: December 2023 

Photo credits: courtesy of SMA 

Asian Sensibility


Yazu, with outlets across Mumbai and Goa is now synonymous with Pan Asian cuisine. With several more planned across the country, SMA is working closely with the restaurateurs to build the brand and maintain a design sensibility that connects the various outlets, while giving each restaurant its own distinct identity.

Sumessh regards Yazu in Lower Parel as its flagship. Customised sculptural lights made of wood and printed jute are suspended from the ceiling, bathing the dining area in a soft yellow light. The in-site concrete flooring with a floral motif inlaid into it mirrors the ceiling.

Visually, there are several layers to the restaurant,so spaces read differently depending on your vantage point. A long hand-carved wooden wall is the focal point of the space.

A row of 4-seater tables is arranged along the length of this wall, and to their other side framed panels of cane that visually separate the low leather seating beyond. Sumessh used a natural palette of stone, cane, wood and jute together with neutral colours to bring a subtle Asian design sensibility to this outlet of Yazu.

Area: 6,000 sq ft​

Location: Lower Parel, Mumbai​

Photography Credits: 21 Frames

Date of completion: April 2023

Immensly Instagrammable

Juliette Ristorante Bar

Sumessh instinctively describes Juiette as ‘immensly intagramable’, and he is right. The interiors are dominated by a realistic installation of a tree complete with fairy lights creating a canopy over the main dining area.

The colour palette is muted comprising of cream, ecru and mushroom tones. Walls see differing textural treatments – a series of niches creating a continuous pattern on the far wall, sculptural murals inspired by pea pods, rough plaster and stone cladding.

Sumessh says he was inspired by the name of the restaurant. “The name Juliette struck me as sensual and feminine and that was the theme I created. The design of the entire space was spun around this, and floral motifs and dreamy elements were woven into the design,” he explains.

Location: Mumbai

Typology: Hospitality

Area: 4,000 sq. ft.

Date of Completion: 2022

Photography by: Indrajeet Sathe