Camera Fabbrica: Art and Artifice

Fabbrica is located in Toronto’s Don Mills neighborhood created for celebrated Canadian chef Mark McEwan. Its name references factories, production and a place ripe for inventive fabrications.

The design sets out to compose a series of settings that allowed the patrons to be reconceptualized members of the ‘cast’ of a cinematic food production. The design takes its cues from the flair and rustic glamour of 1950s and 60s movies such as Roman Holiday and La Dolce Vita. With the name Fabbrica, the design captured a dining experience that simultaneously accentuates the artifice and the care of production.

At the front of the restaurant, a vaulted ceiling lined in reclaimed wood establishes the aura of a sunfilled galleria with floor-to-ceiling windows, wicker lounge chairs and plush leather seating. A folding storefront renders the façade into a loggia here in the warm months, inviting voyeuristic glimpses into the interior and arm’s length participation with the animated sidewalk.

“We set out to compose a series of settings that allowed the patrons to be reconceptualized members of the cast of our cinematic food production.”

Suspended from the vault, a ribbon of red powder-coated steel unfurls like a frivolous ribbon of film or a luxurious pouring of wine. This room culminates in a gleaming red coffee and wine bar detailed with marble, and stainless steel. Lined with tufted-leather bar stools, the bar brings to mind fast Italian sports cars.

The design includes several custom light fixtures, including wine strip in the bar’s wood vault.

The dramatic sparkle of rigged, theatre lights heighten the cinematic experience against a backdrop of dense wine bottles arranged on industrial, exposed shelving. Entry to the main dining room through an angled ‘slot’ gives the impression of slipping into a film studio. Walls are sliced with wood fins and foreshortened like stage sets. An indigo ‘blueprint’ wall with a Gio Ponte inspired print pokes fun at the idea that the space is still under construction. Acoustical red fins zip around the ceiling like racing stripes, drawing one’s eye to a gleaming semi-open kitchen, which is anchored by a giant hand-made, wood-burning pizza oven that looks like an old, industrial boiler. Marble and wood fold, notch and pleat into counters and benches.

Custom lights, like photographer’s umbrellas, add glamour while also strategically lowering the interior’s vast ceilings. The private dining room treats diners to the restaurant’s ‘back-stage’. Shelves of dry goods, slices in the walls and an intense lining of ad-hoc surfaces including plywood, slat walls, cork and mirror merge to represent Fabbrica’s fresh mixing of ingredients and ideas.

Fabbrica was awarded the Canadian Interiors, Best of Canada Award, as well as, Project of the Year Award. It has been featured in various international publications, including The Globe and Mail, Interior Design Magazine, Toronto Life, Code Magazine, Diseno Interior, DHD Magazine, and FRAME.

Project Facts

  • Client

    The McEwan Group

  • Location

    Don Mills, Toronto, Ontario

  • Size

    11,140 sq.ft.

  • Status


  • Sub-Consultant Team

    Structural — RJC Engineering

    Electrical — Hammerschlag + Joffe

    Mechanical — The Mitchell Partnership

    Kitchen — Anjinnov Management

    Code — Randal Brown & Associates

  • Photography