Street food stalls – Rethinking the quintessential Indian street cart
With the Corona lock-down in place, the one thing that Indians are missing is the eclectic Indian street food. There is no doubt that India has one of the most vibrant, delicious and affordable street food options in the World. Be it the simple ‘Chaat’, junk/fast food, to tea or ice lollies to complex food dishes – the delectable street food of our country has no match. The culture of visiting your favorite ‘Pani-Puri’ stall or going out for ‘Chai’ or street side ‘Chhole Kulche’ is well ingrained in every Indian. However, the one thing that could change in the street food scene could be the appearance and design of these food stalls. With ambiance becoming such an important part of the eating experience, we need to rethink approach towards these food kiosks. How about we take some inspiration from food stalls around the World?
This London based food outlet indulges customers with Asian and South Indian delicacies. The design of the stand is simple and colorful, in a way a small nudge to the vibrant food and culture of India. It features a simple side story about the food, the brand and thus makes it more engaging to people who are new to Indian cuisine. Our verdict – Fun and Quirky!
It is important that the stall designs for Indian street food be easy, accessible and affordable. Upcycled wood or palette boards are a great way to make a statement, while keeping the above factors in mind. An earthy and approachable aesthetic will suit Indian streets and appeal to more customers.
Not just food, but street kiosks for clothes, plants, jewelry, handicrafts etc. are a huge market in India. However, the ‘Thela’ style is used by all regardless of their merchandise. This is obviously due to the fact that street vendors can find and afford the street cart easily. Yet, creativity cannot be bound. Using the same cart, some wood and paints, the design can be inventively altered like the example above to suit the product to the shop.
Another example of a fun, simple and vernacular approach towards the street food stalls. This is a more permanent structure using tree trunks and branches, assembled and simply painted white to give it a distressed shabby chic look. Easy – Doable – Different.
Ingeniously used metal sheets as a kiosk ‘facade’ makes this stall stand out. The rustic industrial vibe is oozing with the rest of the decor, the furniture and logo. Product placement is on point and makes for an interesting Instagram worthy backdrop.
Displaying the fares in a street cart in a bold and interesting way can also mean more customer engagement. People are drawn more to well designed, attractive shops, restaurants or markets. So among the many kiosks, a design which stands out, looks good and is functional would have more outreach.
Fairs, markets, exhibitions and outdoor events are a regular thing in India. Yet, there is little or no creativity in the design and making of the stalls and shops. The above example is a simple, effective and beautiful option which lights up the night sky as well as contributes well to the streetscape.
This minimalist design with awesome branding is an example of how even with limited means we can redefine the look of Indian streets. Metal frames and wood slats with a blinking sign makes this stall eye-catching, effortless and affordable. Counter space is extensive and makes this stall visible from all sides, increasing customer curiosity and repeat visits.
Different ways of how a simple street cart can be revamped to suit the product. The frames in both the examples allow more products to be displayed and thus means more business. An effective solution both functionally and aesthetically.
What makes street carts more popular is their portability which is a huge requirement for Indian street vendors. However, the carts are cumbersome and need a lot of effort to move as they are heavy with items. How many times have you seen a vendor pushing his cart with difficulty to reach his spot? This ‘Rickshaw’ style cart is a genius idea for reducing effort for them as well as gives the chance to vendors to set up shop anywhere.
Upcycling old autos, vans or cars into street shops means lesser waste on the planet as well as an easy, quick and attractive stall. By adding a few more elements like a simple wooden bar, a brand sign or colors, this coffee kiosk offers more convenience to the customers and a vibe which they won’t tire of.
Smaller carts or shops do not have to be so boring either. Check out the above examples to notice how tiny stalls are re-imagined to give them a feature forward look, ease in usage as well as plenty of space to stock or display wares. Fold-able flaps as tables, covered shops for pastries or perishable foods, overhangs for shade or as precaution against rain etc. are some essential elements for kiosks.
Indian streets are lined with street food, street markets and stalls. We’ve all grown up savoring these treats yet very little is being done to improve or stylize these shops. It’s a pity to see vendors struggling with their stalls in unhygienic and bad work settings. The recent mass exodus of daily wage workers in New Delhi have brought their plight to focus. Maybe in the coming times, architects, interior and product designers can come together to make the lives of these people better and more beautiful – the people responsible for making our lives a little tangier, spicier and happier.
Author: Jamila Sidhpurwala
Jamila is one part artist, two parts foodie, and all parts traveler. She is a patron of good art and design and loves to immerse herself in books and music. Simplicity and minimalism is her motto as an architect. A writing enthusiast, she surrounds herself with all things creative. She actively shuns all “ists” and “isms” and firmly believes in a “no – label” world! She isn’t afraid to take risks, speak her mind, push forward and challenge preconceptions. She is currently pursuing Masters in Architecture at the University of Liechtenstein.