The essence of Paris

By Adeela Akmal
Tue, 05, 18

This week, You! takes a look at the recently opened cafe in Karachi, that will transport you to Paris as soon as you step inside...


This week, You! takes a look at the recently opened cafe in Karachi, that will transport you to Paris as soon as you step inside...

When you think of a cafe, your first thought might be of a warm and inviting space that smells of coffee and chocolate. This welcoming characteristic of a coffee shop is what draws people in without a second thought to de-stress. Cafes are originally French, and the French have the flair for a refined and effortless space when it comes to interiors. Their spaces might be chic and exude elegance, but they are always cosy. It is a combination of classic and contemporary styles which is why this interior design remains a timeless choice.

The recently opened ‘Coco9 Cafe’ in Clifton, Karachi, is a perfect example of all of the above. It was founded by chocolate connoisseur and pastry chef, Pinky Perwani, who studied Pastry Arts & International Breads at French Culinary Institute of New York.

“It has always been a dream of mine to own a cafe. It took us nine long months to finish it but I am so glad it finally happened, and that too the right way,” she shares.

Originally, the space was supposed to be a bakery but interior designer, Rita Hasan from Design19 studio had other ideas. “Initially, Pinky just wanted to start a bakery and a place where she can work on her catering orders, but I convinced them to have a little cafe as well. When you think of baking, you immediately think: French. So, we followed that theme to match it. While looking for places, they found a townhouse which was all broken up and had be rebuilt completely,” shares Rita.

Even though the cafe is a small space that accommodates around 22 to 25 people at a time, it doesn’t look cluttered at all. It is a tricky feat to achieve when one is working with a theme as grandeur and rich as this. Entering through the white gates of the now transformed townhouse, one meets with a cupid fountain which represents Pinky’s love for baking. According to Rita, the true art lies in making a room feel like it has a personality, “The ambiance of a place should be such that it transports you to a completely different place. So, the idea for Coco9 was that once you enter, you feel like you are in Paris. I drew inspiration from Pinky’s style of cooking which is very clean and Parisian. Also, for a lot of things Pinky’s input was always there.”

The main colour scheme is a classic white and black combination which makes for a refreshing change from the warmer hues. This was a conscious choice made by Rita and Pinky both. The courtyard is sleek with grey brick walls that adorns tactfully placed green turf made to look like grass. However, the real sight awaits the inside area of the shop where you are greeted with an immaculate display of viennoiseries, artisan breads and desserts, including macaroons, tarts, cakes and designer chocolates that will bring out your inner child.

“Lighting is one of the important aspects and that is why, it is used carefully. The chocolates have to be temperature controlled and putting them under any harsh light will melt them. So, adjustments have to be made accordingly. There are also some subliminal elements like the counters and the showcase are almost butter coloured because the main ingredient aside from flour is butter. It makes one crave some after they have laid eyes on it,” explains Rita.

Since the cafe is quite small, meticulous attention to detail is given. From decor to the furniture, everything serves a purpose. The table tops are marble as opposed to the white linen which makes the setting look neater. The usage of glass and its placement allows the customers the outside view eliminating any feeling of claustrophobia. “The placement of things makes a huge difference. I added in the water element with the fountain, not for the look of it but the sound of it. The sound of water falling soothes you especially if it is in the hot weather. I have used many Feng Shui influences that relax you without even realising it. Pinky also emphasised to keep it clean and simple which was also my focus. Also, if you don’t feel clean in a place, you wouldn’t feel like eating there,” Rita adds.

To bring out more personality here, there are some books kept in a small shelf that you can grab while having a coffee. A couple of signs and cushions with ‘Instagram-y’ quotes add a hipster touch to it. “I am big on adding sense of humour and some whimsical elements like the vespa scooter. The idea was to bring a story to this place which I think we did it,” Rita enthuses.

So, if you have a sweet tooth that needs an array of desserts to satiate or you are looking to enjoy a romantic coffee date with your significant other, there is a piece of Paris right here in Karachi, that just might be the spot for you.