Group portrait of Ivy Studio

Canadian Design Firm Ivy Studio Is Revolutionizing Contract Interiors

Part of Metropolis’s Specify Hot List 2021, this Montreal-based firm specializes in custom work for stylish clients.

To glimpse the future of coworking spaces, take a look at Spacial, a Canadian office-sharing firm not unlike America’s WeWork. Montreal-based Ivy Studio Office of Architecture designed its inaugural location to update the typology with a fresh approach to finishes, furnishings, and the specifying process in general. “Our philosophy is to do as much custom work as possible,” principal Philip Staszewski says. That also happens to be part of the firm’s sustainability strategy: using local craftspeople whenever possible.

“For furniture or finishes, we always try to find a local company,” Staszewski explains. “This gives us more control over the final result and avoids excessive importation of products.” Plus, custom work is a crowd-pleaser. “You might see a beautiful chair in one place but if you see it somewhere else, it takes away from the experience.” 

Like the young workforce associated with the coworking concept, Ivy’s partners (Staszewski, Guillaume Riel, David Kirouac, and Gabrielle Rousseau) are inspired by their shared value systems.

“We’re just a group of four friends working together and having fun designing,” says Riel of himself and his young partners. That doesn’t mean they lack experience: The studio’s impressive list of commercial work includes offices, restaurants, and even barbershops. 

Office Interior
When designing a space for a Montreal-based machine fabricator, Ivy Studio Office of Architecture was inspired by its client’s core product, metal extrusions. COURTESY © ALEX LESAGE

And the team has become expert in finding ways to further clients’ business objectives, or “propelling brands forward,” as Staszewski puts it. For example, Vention, a Montreal-based machine fabricator, needed a new headquarters that reflected its core business, metal extrusions. “We were extremely intrigued by the client’s product,” Staszewski says. For barbershop Crisp Saint-Henri, “the client didn’t want a classic barbershop, but something more minimalist,” Staszewski recalls. “He had taken a trip to Japan and loved everything he saw there.”

For Spacial, the coworking office, the brief was to insert a 9,000-square-foot office interior in a former industrial space along the lines of a Manhattan loft. “The three big conference rooms and the common areas are very generous,” Staszewski says. “In fact, it’s patterned after the idea of working in a café.”

Ultimately, a spirit of teamwork makes the firm work. “We were close friends at Laval University in Quebec City, doing class projects together,” said Staszewski. “We still have the energy and ambition we had in school.” 

Would you like to comment on this article? Send your thoughts to: [email protected]