This cafe in Mumbai is entirely made out of cardboard. Don't believe us? Knock on the walls!

Through Cardboard Cafe, Yung and Bhavana Dhanani are taking huge steps towards sustainability and spreading environmental awareness 
Cardboard Cafe was fabricated deploying cutting edge digital design and fabrication tools
Cardboard Cafe was fabricated deploying cutting edge digital design and fabrication tools

You all have heard of the term 'Think out of the box.' Now, this exciting new cafe in Mumbai wants you to think (and also eat) inside a cardboard box. Didn't get us? Well, if you are a Mumbaikar, you already know about the cafe we are talking about. But, for the others, it's called Cardboard, India's first joint that's entirely made out of eco-friendly, durable cardboard!

Located in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), this cafe is redefining how you can use the versatile material to design trendy interiors. Starting from tables to chairs, light fixtures, walls, menu and even the bill, — every single thing is made out of cardboard. 

The cafe was conceived and designed by architect Nuru Karim of NUDES (a Mumbai-based architectural firm) and the cafe was brought to life by Yung Dhanani and his sibling Bhavna Dhanani of BAD Management in collaboration with Shilpa Tulaskar and Vishal Shetty from Thyme and Reason Hospitality.

All aboard cardboard: Cardboard Cafe opened to the public on February 3, 2019

Siblings Yung and Bhavana Dhanani who are from India but were brought up in Spain, on their travels to India, had started their first cafe — BAD — in 2015, designed by architect and close friend, Nuru. "He likes to experiment and work with natural materials so he had designed the exterior façade out of 25,992 PVC pipes. He then had done a project in 2018 which I personally loved — it was Noah's Ark made out of cardboard. After that, I was pretty sure he would make his next project out of this beautiful material," Yung Dhanani, co-founder of Cardboard Cafe says, explaining the origin of their idea.

Yung then was approached in 2018 by his investors — Thyme and Reason — to do a restaurant with them. He sat with Nuru and decided to showcase the idea of cardboard as a material to be used for the entire cafe and focus on sustainability to give this humble material some pizzazz. "Then came seven months of trials and figuring out the material and how it would react in all seasons. It then took four months to build the entire cafe. Cardboard opened to the public on February 3, 2019," adds Yung.

So, why did they choose cardboard?

Corrugated cardboard is a highly sustainable material. It has zero impact on the environment and is 100 per cent recyclable and biodegradable. It has great sound absorption qualities, acoustics and insulation. It has also been treated as a waterproof material particularly for table tops in the context of being practical for its intended use. Corrugated cardboard is approximately 50 per cent air which makes it lightweight and durable. It is durable and displays great strength due to the flutings. The flutes also trap air which extends the time for air or heat transfer

Yung Dhanani, Co-founder, Cardboard Cafe

Cardboard Cafe was fabricated deploying cutting edge digital design and fabrication tools. Interior architecture elements including furniture, products, lights and accessories were all fabricated using corrugated cardboard. Whatever material has been used in the cafe has been tested through vigorous prototyping to examine functionality and durability, says Yung, who is also the head chef at the cafe. All the tabletops present at the cafe have been wax laminated to prevent water or food from affecting the material, he adds.

The food served at the cafe is an amalgamation of different influences, styles and ingredients. The ingredients are all generally locally sourced (bread from Mag St Bread Co, coffee from the South, etc), every dish is made fresh, and there’s a focus on some really eccentric and unusual combinations — pulled pork with orange wedges for instance. Cardboard also offers vegan and Jain options as the chef is vegan himself but, they are also quite good at handling their meat and seafood. 

Om Nom Nom: The food served at the cafe is an amalgamation of different influences, styles and ingredients

Yung says that their customer feedback is what keeps them going mostly. "Customers have given all kinds of reactions many positive ones and some which helped to understand and learn about the material more. First reactions are so humbling, beautiful and some are hilarious — when they slowly sit on it all worried if it will break and then they are all excited that yes it can take their weight. A few even tell their spouses that we have lost weight. But what I enjoy the most is how people can touch and feel the material, understand it's depth and teaches people to be more aware and sustainable," exclaims Yung.

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