A 5-star culinary experience

The new Vela restaurant, opened in the heart of Toronto, aims to recreate the magic and ambiance of a lobby bar of a luxury grand hotel. The design is by award-winning firm Partisans, here in the dual role of lead designer and business partner alongside Canadian hospitality veterans Amanda Bradley and Robin Goodfellow

Vela, Toronto
Vela, Toronto

“We are both big fans of lobby bars and their world-class hospitality and design. Day or night, like your favorite five-star hotel, Vela is there for whatever you may need. Pop in for a casual lunch or plan a special night out at the champagne bar. The space itself is an escape to a timeless era with so much to explore.” These are the words that two experts of the culinary world Amanda Bradley and Robin Goodfellow, use to explain their entrepreneurial adventure as managing partners of the new Vela restaurant opened in Toronto‘s historic center. The award-winning architecture firm Partisans is also involved and was in charge of designing the interiors to reflect the two partners’ passions and desire for a restaurant giving incomparable service.

The starting point was to increase the capacity of the dining areas — 372 square meters inside and 186 square meters outside — to be able to seat 210 guests with a layout including a bar and kitchen visible from every angle. The design highlighted materials from 1904, including brick and wood, in perfect harmony with new materials like metal and cement.

Their intent was to guide patrons on a journey through a gradual, significant passage in the various spaces, starting from the reception area, going through the coat check, then moving on to the L-shaped champagne bar where they wait for the table and then to the main dining room. The luxurious lounge recreates the ease of a hotel lobby, while the leather sofas and white Carrara marble tables evoke a 1920s atmosphere.

From the entrance, we can see elements of the theme that inspired Partisans in the visual rendering of this ‘moving through,’ i.e. the natural phenomena of the erosion of rocks sculpted by wind and water that occur under a constellation. Some forms are reminiscent of glacial erratics and the ceiling of the lobby features a flowing light sculpture that seeks to create an experience similar to that of a starry night. This feature is visually powerful and is also of high technological quality. Made from a prefabricated mold in GFRG (glass fiber reinforced gypsum), it incorporates lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and acoustic management in one.

The aspect of sound absorption was given great attention, keeping in mind that it can host live performances. Sound waves are also dispersed by the curved surface of the leather bar of the counter, the scalloped leather sofas, and the angled partition that frames the acoustically clad kitchen, for top-notch environmental and personal comfort.

Photo © Jonathan Friedman, PARTISANS