Tease Me Café, Kerala, by Wallmakers uses discarded cloth and concrete for its interiors

Wallmakers, an architectural firm based in Kerala, India, experiments with waste cloth hung from the ceiling to aesthetically delineate different areas inside a space starved café.

by Nivedita Jayaram PawarPublished on : Mar 24, 2021

For many people, a neighbourhood cafe is just the place to pick up a cup of coffee on their way to work, set up shop with their laptop for the day, or to unwind after a day of work. It’s no wonder that cafeterias have become outlets for some of the most creative interiors in the world. Designers have incorporated technology, art and nature among other themes to create a world for guests to escape to.

Those looking for a shot of great design with their cappuccino, should check out Tease Me Café designed by Vinu Daniel, architect and founder of Wallmakers. Located in the bustling city of Kottayam in the southern Indian state of Kerala, this minimalist modern marvel wows both architecture fans and caffeine addicts alike.

Kora cloth partitions cascade seamlessly from ceiling to floor | Tease Me Cafe by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
Kora cloth partitions cascade seamlessly from ceiling to floor Image: Prasanth Mohan, Courtesy of Running Studios

The first thing that strikes you on entering Tease Me is the incongruous partitions that cascade seamlessly from the ceiling to the floor. These are fashioned out of kora cloth (waste cloth) as the base, finished with a layer of ferro-cement and grey oxide and further waxed and polished.

Clothcrete for organic seats | Tease Me Cafe by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
‘Clothcrete’ for organic seats Image: Prasanth Mohan, Courtesy of Running Studios

The idea to use cloth germinated from the dire need to maximise the limited space (a mere 695 sq ft) inside the café. The one-inch thick ‘clothcrete’ partitions not only ensure privacy and space utilisation but also tumble down to become seats for the diners. The concept is taken a step further by incorporating similar details in the wash basin area and toilet.

Melting concrete cloth basin | Tease Me Cafe by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
Melting concrete cloth basin Image: Prasanth Mohan, Courtesy of Running Studios

The inspiration for this fabric-based design came to Daniel when he was working on the interior of an apartment. “I was using kora cloth to cover all the wet, oxidised walls. Kora is the cheapest kind of cloth used mostly as the underside in women’s clothing. It’s white with a beautiful texture. One day when I entered the flat to inspect the project, I saw the white cloth dancing magically in the wind. That imagery of cloth fluttering and flowing over the furniture, walls, everything had a deep impact on me,” recalls Daniel, an award-winning architect known for his expertise in using eco-friendly and waste materials in construction. Used bottles, scrap metal, jute sacks, coconut shells, broken bricks…all find a home in Daniel’s buildings. 

Vinu Daniel, architect and founder of Wallmakers | Tease Me Cafe by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
Vinu Daniel, architect and founder of Wallmakers Image: Courtesy Anand Jaju Photography

However, the idea was a tough one to execute and Daniel faced many challenges working with cloth, right from the load calculation to the texture and fall. “It is one thing to imagine and another thing to execute. To execute, you need an army that believes in you. You can go into any battle if the army says that my general is right. The partitions took us nearly three months to complete. After numerous failed attempts the team zeroed in on kora cloth finished with a layer of ferro-cement and grey oxide. It was further waxed and polished to create undulations and folds that add a playful feel to the café’s understated aesthetic,” informs Daniel, who is currently working on constructing a home using discarded toys.

  • The intimate interiors of Tease Me Cafe by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
    The intimate interiors of Tease Me Cafe Image: Prasanth Mohan, Courtesy of Running Studios
  • Drapes play hide and seek |Tease Me Cafe by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
    Drapes play hide and seek Image: Prasanth Mohan, Courtesy of Running Studios

Open layout

The highly unconventional interior designed by Wallmakers creates different integrated areas, which are connected giving a tremendous sense of intimacy. The guests at Tease Me Café are welcomed by a linear seating layout, from which they can watch their tantalising treats come into being from the open-plan kitchen in the centre of the café.

The open kitchen layout also encourages natural engagement with the chef as opposed to the rapid turnaround of today’s high street caffeine providers. Aromas of freshly made food wafts through the café, invigorating appetites and initiating conversations.

The open kitchen layout that encourages engagement | Tease Me Cafe by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
The open kitchen layout that encourages engagement Image: Prasanth Mohan, Courtesy of Running Studios

Light plays a significant part in creating the tranquil mood of this café. Here too Daniel has used his ingenuity. Meandering steel pipes protrude out of the back wall and bend down towards the kitchen counter. The pipes act both as exhaust to suck out the excess smoke created by the open kitchen as well light fixtures over the tables. The mellow diffused light contrasts beautifully with the rugged interiors to create a poetic and unpredictable dining environment conducive to countless selfies.

  • Light plays a significant part in the cafe’s tranquil mood | Tease Me Cafe by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
    Light plays a significant part in the cafe’s tranquil mood Image: Prasanth Mohan, Courtesy of Running Studios
  • Mellow diffused light contrasts with rugged interiors | Tease Me Cafe by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
    Mellow diffused light contrasts with rugged interiors Image: Prasanth Mohan, Courtesy of Running Studios
  • Meandering steel pipes protrude out of the back wall | Tease Me Cafe by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
    Meandering steel pipes protrude out of the back wall Image: Prasanth Mohan, Courtesy of Running Studios

Sustain and survive

The idea of environmental friendliness introduced into the interior of Tease Me Café is not constrained to reusing kora cloth and other materials in the building process. The more important idea was to popularise the concept of reusing and recycling by creating an incredibly beautiful environment. Old press panel boxes joined together along with old wooden windows adroitly form the tables that stand in stark contrast to the drapes.

  • Press panel boxes form tables | Tease Me Cafe by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
    Press panel boxes form tables Image: Prasanth Mohan, Courtesy of Running Studios
  • Exterior view of Tease Me Cafe  by Wallmakers in Kottayam, India | STIRworld
    Exterior view of Tease Me Cafe Image: Prasanth Mohan, Courtesy of Running Studios

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