July Issue 2008
Jack of All Trades
The Elephant Warehouse is a very unusual shop: it’s part cafÃ©, part art gallery and part furniture store. Walking in through the wrought iron gates, customers are greeted by a Volkswagen parked on the left, while on the right is a cafÃ© called the Roadside CafÃ©, and straight ahead is the furniture store. Inside the furniture store is a spiral staircase which leads to the top level where on your left are samples of cement and marble floor tiles for sale, while on the right is the gallery where exhibition space is available to those interested in displaying their work. In short, this shop performs a four-in-one function.
The furniture is imported from Sri Lanka and is made of Marra wood, which is exclusively found in Sri Lanka. Unique in its cut and design, it is made by workers on the outskirts of the cities and is bought from a warehouse. “So, it is not commercial,” says Sibte, one of the three partners in the venture, “and promotes a craft-based industry.” The furniture pieces are unique, only one of each kind is available, which is why they are a little pricey. The available furniture ranges from dining tables, sofas, beds to smaller shelves, chairs and mantle pieces. The tiles are terrazzo/agglomerated cement and marble, made using Italian technology.
One of the remarkable aspects of this shop is that it is not enclosed. Inside, there are no walls or doors to separate one area from another. It was a design strategy on the part of the owners to make a place where customers can breathe fresh air as opposed to the air-conditioned boxes everywhere else. The dÃ©cor is done very tastefully, with lots of greenery and wooden blinds to create a very natural environment.
The experience of the shop is incomplete if you do not go to the cafÃ©, which has a wi-fi connection. The lights are dim and there are numerous pedestal fans, so with the evening breeze and no traffic, it is a pleasant and noiseless environment to be in. Complementary mint drinks are served, which are very refreshing in this heat. The menu may be limited, but what is served is good. While you wait for your food, you can stroll through the furniture shop or check out the tiles and art work, and if you’ve done that, there is yet more to do — the Warehouse also houses a pool table. So with a variety of options to choose from, the Elephant Warehouse is sure to attract a large clientele.
Farieha Aziz is a Karachi-based journalist and teacher. She joined Newsline in 2007, rising to assistant editor. Farieha was awarded the APNS award for Best Investigative Report (Business/Economic) for the year 2007-2008. She is a co-founder and Director at Bolo Bhi, an advocacy forum of Digital Rights.