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