Maja Kozel’s latest commission—Project Chaiwala at Media City Dubai is an inviting and colourful space that exudes a homely and cozy feel because of the sustainable materials used in the process. The material palette includes sustainable choices such as timber, black steel, and locally-sourced terrazzo.
Dutch interior designer Marwa El Nory collaborated with Kozel on the project, providing finishing touches to the space. Just like in traditional chai shops, the focus of Project Chaiwala’s design is on the main attraction i.e. the ‘chaiwala’ working his magic at his station, as well as the customer’s comfort. The ‘chai-making’ station captivates the audience with its traditional elements as soon as they enter, with its bright turquoise color and shutter framing the chaiwala as he pours tea with finesse. Kozel wanted to modernise cultural elements, which explains material selections like black steel and timber, along with indirect lighting, as a means to focus on the counter. Its turquoise shutter with the Project Chaiwala logo, which gives an urban street vibe, will even intrigue people passing by the entrance. Behind the shutter are shelves stocked with different specialty teas, while the exposed Kashmiri tea pink-coloured ceiling gives an uplifting atmosphere.
The space features extra storage as part of the design – reclaimed shelves act as a backdrop against a concrete wall, displaying functionality without compromising on innovation. Maja selected custom-made planters with included storage for the booth seating and the Chaiwala station as a way to divide the space without restrictive barriers, while still adding the aspect of privacy.