Reflections of Royalty in Lagos

Mumbai based design firm Tejal Mathur Design used the palatial homes of Rajasthan as inspiration for their recently completed pan-Asian restaurant in Lagos. By Amrita Shah

Designers have always worked across borders, but with Covid it became the norm to work remotely. Tejal Mathur, principal designer of the eponymous boutique design firm was approached by a restaurateur of Indian origin to design a restaurant in Lagos just before the world locked down. Inability to visit the site proved a little challenging but not impossible, and the entire project was eventually conceived in the designer’s studio and executed by a project management team in Lagos – with every detail overseen by Tejal and her team.

The 10,000 sqft space was spread out over two levels and took two years to execute – largely due to covid restrictions which hampered construction. The entrance lobby opened into a nightclub catering mainly to Lagos’ elite on the lower floor, while the upper level was conceived of as a mellow, seductive space that would serve modern Indian food.

Tejal’s approach to projects have had her dubbed a ‘post –modern vintage designer’ and a ‘purveyor of the past’. Her sourcing house ‘Ironworks’ established in 2012 specialises in sourcing one-off craft pieces from across India and made her studio the perfect choice for furnishing this project.

The magic, Tejal says, was in the conceptualisation of the space and then the subsequent sourcing of each item so that Mantra took you back in time and told a narrative of Indian royalty. Tejal says she and her team painstakingly curated craft pieces to authenticate the intricacy of Indian heritage to put out on a plate for the world to appreciate.

She says, “It was a whole different game to source distinctive elements of architecture and carving that lend to the mood of being teleported to a mystical, magical land of deserts and dunes and ship them out to another culture.” Carved panels, intricately etched archways and ornate chandeliers reflect the splendour of the handcrafted palatial homes (or havelis) of Rajasthan. Five containers containing everything from furniture and fabric to candle stands that had been handpicked by Tejal were shipped off to Lagos when she spent three weeks, working round-the-clock to put the restaurant together before the launch in June 2023.

Tejal concludes, “The essence of Mantra – a story of all things bodyliciously and maximally Indian…Dipped in soft dune textures of a desert-scape, the quill that scripted the narrative from our studio in Mumbai translates into an enveloping experience across several borders in Lagos. This was our way to put out our proud heritage across borders and make India seductive.”

Design Head: Tejal Mathur

Team of Designers: Yashika Wadhwani , Gayatri Shinde

Area of Project: 10,000 sq ft

Year of Completion : 2023

Location: Lagos, Nigeria

Photographer: Khaldoun Hamze

Other design consultants/ contractors: Four Corner Innovation and Construction Ltd.