Colombo’s first Fashion Cafe makes new style statement for Sri Lanka with young local design talent

With the changing face of Colombo the city is coming alive with some of the most interesting public spaces yet to be witnessed in Sri Lanka. Bringing in a remarkable addition to Colombo’s most exquisite dining experiences, a new restaurant made headlines across the city recently; this is A&W fashion cafe. 

Presented by the celebrated restaurateur Dharshan Munidasa whose vision brought forward some of Asia’s top rated dining experiences like Nihonbashi and Ministry of Crab, this latest venture set out to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience linked to style, fashion and Colombo’s contemporary image. 

Needless to say, a project of this caliber called for outstanding interior design, and Munidasa called in one of the country’s most promising talents for the purpose, LADYNEON Studio by AOD’s first-class awarded graduate talent Marianne Gooneratna was selected to craft Colombo’s most fashionable dining experience.

A&W’s personality is rooted in its location – the promenade of Odel where Alexandra Place meets Ward Place, which is one of Colombo’s favourite hubs for style and fashion. Munidasa’s vision was to present a dining experience that enriched this space by embracing its mystique while making parallels to the Italian and Japanese cuisine presented by A&W and Cafe Nihonbashi

Gooneratna, the principal designer behind LADYNEON stated that understanding this very specific requirement and its creative subtleties were the key to presenting a design solution that matched Munidasa’s vision. Exuding a sense of brave modernity that Colombo’s new spirit aspires to capture, mixed in with Italian swank and Japanese geometry, A&W now stands with a bold mix of statement furniture, clever lighting and atmospheric design. 

Working with her highly-trained sense of creative strategy for spaces, designer, Gooneratna also understood the importance of creating a ‘signature piece’ for the space which would be the talking point, the background for countless photographs and memories within the restaurant – all key contributors to the popularity and brand identity of the space. 

This is how the much-talked-about centerpiece of A&W came to be; a towering, 20-foot birdcage with sparkling lighting that dazzles the restaurant and its many diners. Dharshan himself is immensely proud of the piece and stated “the birdcage design, in particular, is unique and the final product is something as good as what you will see in any developed country”.

The creative mastermind behind this incredibly successful space,  Gooneratna graduated from AOD a few years back with a first class degree in Interior Design awarded by the Northumbria University UK. Upon graduating, she took on several major projects including the redesign of AOD’s dynamic campus space in Colombo. Currently Gooneratna and her studio LADYNEON is developing several major projects in Colombo, including a new concept hotel. 

Despite her early success, Gooneratna is humble of her strengths and victories, and credits her education for preparing her to take on challenging projects: “What I value the most about the higher education I received from AOD is my ability to conceptualise. An AOD designer is a conceptual designer I believe. This helps us provide unique tailor made solutions that are fresh to the eye. Also while at AOD I studied the complexities of different interior design genres such as; commercial, retail, exhibition, hospitality and residential design. This increases the scope of work I can take on. My then lecturers still continue on as lifelong mentors and AOD also provides a lot of support to its entrepreneurial alumni. The curriculum that AOD presents with Northumbria University is very conscious of social dynamics and directs a designer to look at more than just colors, shapes and textures. My education at AOD encouraged me to improve lifestyles.”

With Sri Lanka’s exponential development in hospitality, restaurant, entertainment and retail markets new spaces with modern personalities that resonate with the country are in constant demand. It is in this light that interior designers like Gooneratna who are highly educated, trained and well-prepared with a strong foundation of international standard design education, come into the highlight. AOD takes immense pride in presenting such education to Sri Lanka and rest of South Asia with a powerful partnership with one of UK’s finest design universities – Northumbria.

See more at: