In the heart of London’s West End is Carnaby Street; a street that’s home to over 100 renowned retail brands and over 50 independent bars and restaurants. The latest addition to this cultural centre is Darjeeling Express, a home-style Indian restaurant nestled on the top floor of Kingly Court. Our lights are used extensively throughout its Indian-inspired interior.
Darjeeling Express is owned and operated by Asma Khan. Her Mughlai ancestry is evident in the restaurant’s mélange of street food that takes diners on a journey from Calcutta in the east of India to Hyderabad in the south.
London-based interior architects A-nrd Studio were commissioned to develop the design concept for the new Soho restaurant and oversee its completion. A-nrd studied the traditional architecture and décor of Asma’s Mughlai heritage and used this insight to influence the restaurant’s overall appearance.
The colour palette of the intimate space comes from golden hour scenery of India where warm, earthy soft tones come alive. This palette is complemented with the cerulean blue of Indian train stations and of the restaurant’s namesake; the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
This colour combination is also reflected on the table tops and the Chai bar, all made in polished, dyed concrete – one of India’s most used materials. Brass also features heavily on the table tops, the light fixtures and various other fittings. Our polished brass Maua pendants and Gentry glass globe pendants with brass galleries and ceiling roses have been used extensively throughout the entire restaurant.
Pictures dotted throughout the restaurant are part of a photographic series by Ming Tang-Evans who visited Asma’s ancestral home in India. The chai pots that adorn the shelves were also hand-made and gifted by one of Asma’s friends.
Looks towards the restaurant’s ceiling and you’ll see the simplicity of Indo-Victorian architecture. The ceiling features hardwood beams, greenery and pottery – typical of Indian interior architecture.
The bench-like booths are inspired by the typical seating of the Darjeeling Express train. These seats are also adorned with mismatched textiles and hand-dyed fabrics in the same earthy tones of the restaurant. The variety of prints represents the richness of pattern and design found in India.
Photography by Ming Tang-Evans.