Experiencing Calcutta’s Chai & Adda Vibe in Dubai’s Business Bay: Branding & Spatial Design
It’s not every day that someone suggests transposing the unique tea-drinking culture of a historic city to a polar opposite metropolis known for its skyscrapers and opulence. Unsurprisingly this had us beaming with excitement.
The curb-side culture of Calcutta’s tea-drinking, nay, tea-overdosing, ingrained in the fabric of the city over decades was now to be presented to the bustling South Asian diaspora in Dubai.
To emphasize the intensity of this brand-build, we’ve structured this case study into challenge and its delusional yet workable solution approach. Kudos to the ideator of said challenges – Naman Dhandhania and his partners.
The Very Thought
The idea of chai & adda isn’t unique in its existence, many cultures have some form of tea-drinking whilst socialising or getting-together. So that begs the question – what makes Calcutta’s chai & adda iconic?
We can observe a richness of collective history funnelled through the geographically diverse migrant population that came to inhabit the erstwhile British capital of India. Calcutta has the original Bengali intelligentsia who need to congregate to talk about worldly affairs – the past, present and future. The Punjabi who just loved tea and consumed it in copious amounts, and are also credited with the existence of late-night chai dhabas. These people from diverse cultures found amongst other things – opportunity, friendship, success and camaraderie through this chai & adda.
Our identity is inspired by the deeply layered city that Calcutta has evolved to be. The brand reminiscent of a timelessness, firmly rooted in the visual memory of Calcuttans.
The colours and design language are inspired by a moodboard of tea experiences across the country.
Transplanting the Ethos
Dubai with its growing South Asian diaspora was ripe for bottomless chai & adda. Amidst glass facades and skyscrapers we attempted to create an environment that put forth parts of Calcutta, parts of adda and all of chai. Calcutta needed to be experienced deeply – through aural, visual, spatial elements that captured the spirit. Whether it was tea-making Dada who hurriedly poured Kadak Chai or the smell of a Garma Garam samosa, you’d find a bit of Calcutta’s cacophony all around. What better way to enjoy Adda Time.
Communicating to Etch Calcutta in Everyone’s Lives
Calcutta’s adda is not just specific to a community or an area but the city as a whole; groups of friends, co-workers, and others can be found at their regular haunts perched on a blue bench, always in the effervescent vicinity boiling tea. Calcutta Chai & Co. needed to have that same ethos – to bring together people from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and beyond (even the forever culturally curious expats) to engage in Kadak Chai over Adda Time.
Our communication design and usage of Hinglish attempts to be easily comprehended while keeping things playful.
Branding for a Feeling
To embody chai & adda obsession in every way possible, we pay homage to elements that stitch together the cultural fabric of calcutta – the tea cart stall, the blue benches, the signage that does not need to evolve with time, the mix of languages. We view the concept deeper than just a city’s product and try to represent the people, their relationship with chai, with adda, and Calcutta. Through Calcutta Chai, we aren’t just sharing our rendition of Calcutta but also allowing them to partake and transform Calcutta as it always has – through people.
While things remain in consistent socio-political tumult around us, we urge you to stay Kadak Like Calcutta.