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Bringing Luxury to the ‘City of Joy’

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Sanjeev Goenka, Vice Chairman, RPG Enterprises discusses about his ambitious project ‘Quest Mall’
Inspiration behind the mall

The desire to have an international, top-class facility in Kolkata, which is my birthplace, and a strong determination within me that Kolkata is second to none. Quest means a long and difficult search for something, especially something that you value. It is an inspiration, somewhat elusive but achievable. Each one of us aspires and has a quest for better things in life. To me, Quest symbolises our aspiration to indulge.
Is Kolkata ready for luxury?

The fact that Kokatans spend, they have good taste and are discerning. You have a lot of people coming here to shop. Also, Kolkata is a very big wedding market. People come here for Anamika Khanna, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Shantanu Goenka and Raj Mahtani, and I believe they’d be very happy to go to a mall like this and shop. Again, Kolkata is a big market for Rakhi, Durga Puja, and Diwali. There’s a big market here that is based on gifting.
On decision making

It was a bold decision. In fact, it was quite a challenge because how you design the mall depends on how you want to position it. If it is  about luxury, it about one kind of designing. If it is mid-segment, it requires another kind of designing. If it is mass, it involves a third kind of designing. So this decision was to be taken before we gave the brief to the architect. Four years ago we had taken this call and it was decided we will build this and it will be a luxury mall. It was a difficult call, but something within me passionately said that it was the right thing to do. If it improves Kolkata’s image a bit, it’s worth it. Something within me said it would work.
On selection of the design firm 
Many international design firms came and gave us presentations. RTKL had done the maximum number of modern malls (Westfield San Francisco Centre, Bahrain City Centre, Dream Mall in Taiwan, etc.). Their design sensibility appealed to us the most. It’s oomph, in a minimalist manner and the basic colour is sand, which is earthy and they sort of built upon it. It has an atrium that is huge. You will see when you walk in, something called a Rain of Petals. It comes from the sixth floor down to the ground floor. The whole thing is metal petal. The petal has been used as a main design feature.
Mall’s location

If you ask me about the advantage then I would say it is right in the heart of the city and it is easy for all of Kolkata to access it. The major challenge is that this area is not known for retail yet.
Concerns before commencement of this project 
Our own experience in this space, which we worked on by hiring the best people in the trade, was regarding planning and implementation. And, of course, attracting major international brands to invest in Kolkata was a challenge.
The brand-mix at Quest
Luxury, premium, bridge. It is aimed at the luxury market but you have stores for everyone. It is not intimidating. For example, with the Burberry and the Gucci, you will have a Manyavar, an elevated line but it’s still Manyavar.
Biggest strength of this mall
I think the mix of stores. The location, luxury or premium brands, and the entire ambience and atmospherics, service standards and the convenience for the shopper will emerge as key differentiators.
Food and beverage segment being redefined in Kolkata. What more to expec
Good food! Kolkata’s first Michelin-star brand (Yauatcha). Fine dining and casual dining, all under one roof. Yauatcha, Smoke House Deli, Chili’s, Irish House, Bombay Brasserie, and a lot more.
Personal picks at Quest would be
Well, I would certainly be seen at many places in the mall, but the most frequent destinations would be:

  • The Spencer’s store
  • Au Bon Pain
  • Inox
  • Fine-dining restaurants to meet my quest for fine dining
  • At the luxury brand stores watching out for latest fashion trends

Is Quest ahead of its time?

Perhaps, yes. However, if you don’t try to overtake time then time will surely overtake you.
In the Box: Salient Features of the ‘Quest’

Fire Safety: The mall has been designed considering the best safety practices. This mall will ensure life safety in case of any fire eventuality. Besides all other fire safety measures like sprinklers, hydrants, detectors and public address system, this mall has an effective smoke extraction system, which has been tested and commissioned successfully. This smoke extraction system will be triggered automatically in case of fire and it is capable of extracting 1.80 lakh cubic feet of smoke per minute. As smoke is the main cause of deaths during fire, this issue has been addressed with due care.
Security: All internal and external spaces, including all entry and exit points of the mall, are being monitored continuously with state-of-the-art CCTV system by Honeywell. A total of 125 cameras have been installed in the mall to ensure each nook and corner can be monitored efficiently, which will help in successful running of the mall operations and at the same time will ensure safety. Other than cameras, baggage scanners and DFMDs are being installed for physical frisking.
Mall lighting design: Various types of imported high-end light fixtures have been used throughout the mall to achieve the desired lighting intent. LEDs from Philips Color Kinetics have been used widely to save electricity and also to cut operational costs. Out of the total lighting, 50 percent of the mall lighting has been done using LEDs, which will save around 50,000 electricity units per month.
Mall flooring: The entire flooring in the retail area of the mall has been done by a combination of four types of Italian marble. The pattern of flooring is complex in nature and has been achieved by cutting the marble in different shapes using CNC machine. Vanatino Italian Marble, which constitutes major of the flooring, has been procured directly from Italy.
Automated parking system: Fully automated parking system has been used in the mall, which will ensure no queue for people exiting the mall. Self-automated pay system will ensure hassle-free movement in the parking area which will give peace of mind and save time of the patrons. Around Rs. 1.50 crore has been invested in the automated parking system.
Revolving door: For the first time in India, a revolving door has been installed at the main entrance of the mall to save air conditioning.
Luxury avenue: The ground floor of the mall has been designed for Luxury Avenue. Various high-end international luxury brands will be placed at the ground floor, which will add more value to the mall. Lifestyle is also coming for the first time in the eastern region as a main anchor tenant. Overall, it will be a first-of-its-kind shopping experience for patrons in the eastern region.
Landscape area: A substantial area inside the mall has been dedicated for the green belt. Different types of plantations are being done to ensure environmental issues.
LED video wall on the external façade: Another first in India, an LED video wall is being put on to the exterior façade of the mall. This LED video wall has been supplied and erected by Mitsubishi. Approximately, Rs. 2 crore has been spent on this video wall. The wall is bound to make the façade more dynamic.
*This article was originally published in the Dec 2013 – Jan 2014 issue of Shopping Centre News. 

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