Cà Select by Marcante Testa, Venice - Photo © Helenio Barbetta

Client: Gruppo Montenegro
Architecture & Interior design: Studio Marcante–Testa
Project and content management: MindTheGap Studio
Plants and facilities design: PGS ingegneria
Content of the exhibition design & visual identity: Studio Fludd
Production coordination & executive production: Epica Film
Local architect: Stefano Romagna
Project manager: Roberta Minici
Building construction: Steelwood
Engineering Set-up arrangements: Amap, Gruppo Frassati, Steelwood Engineering, WonderGlass
Lighting design: Studio Marcante – Testa in collaboration with Flos
Decorative lighting supplier: Fortuny
Technical lighting supplier: Flos
System integrator: Acuson, Red Group
Photo Credits: Helenio Barbetta

Red Spritzes are the famous Venetian cocktail now beloved worldwide. They were likely invented in the 19th century by Austrian troops who tried to stretch Venetian wines, intense in terms of alcohol, with a “splash” – spritzen in German – of sparkling water. The amaranth red color comes from Select the Venetian bitter, which was invented in the 1920s and is now made by Gruppo Montenegro. Cà Select is a space made to produce and promote the famous drink, designed as a multifunctional space by Turin-based architects Andrea Marcante and Adelaide Testa.

It is set in an area less overwhelmed by excessive tourism in the north of the Venetian district, Cannaregio, near the North Lagoon and fascinating historic sites such as the Church of the Madonna dell’Orto, the House of Tintoretto, and the former Church of the Abbey of Misericordia.

“We want to tell a story of a Venice that can draw on the uniqueness of its history through the lens of contemporaneity and give Select a home that highlights its past and future bond with this city,” say the designers.

True to this district’s long crafting history, Cà Select covers 690 square meters over two floors in a low manufacturing building, once the site of a workshop for metalworking. Now it is divided into three areas: one production area for the maceration of the main raw materials used to make Select, which includes rhubarb and juniper; an exhibition area that recounts the relationship to Venice (curated by Studio Fludd); and a multipurpose space made powerfully distinctive by blue Murano glass bar/mixology counter with an irregular pattern suggesting the movements of lagoon waves. This tailor-made counter, designed by Marcante Testa, is the brand’s prime identifying element, placed at the end of the corridor from Fondamenta Madonna dell’Orto. 

The designers are known for their great attention to detail, making use here of the undeniable iconic impact of the historical Select bottle, and long-stem glass as parts of a scenic setting that involves the use of bright colors and warm materials, like velvet, and vibrant materials like mosaic in a beautiful direct tribute to the Venetian tradition.

The architects say, “The overall experience of the new space is imagined as a theatrical sequence, where the audience becomes protagonists as in the famous ‘Bal Oriental,’ whose images ‘immerse’ the visitor in what has gone down in history as the most extraordinary masquerade party of the Venetian twentieth century, earning the title of Party of the Century.

The terrazzo floors are also ultra-Venetian as are the distinctive lamps by Mariano Fortuny, often hung in a red metal supporting grid to respect the original wooden trusses, which are left exposed. Another tribute to the unforgettable Fortuny is the mosaics in the entrance, inspired by some of his sketches and made with tiles fired in the historic Orsoni Venice 1888 furnace. A glazed wall with a red filter in the mezzanine, holding mainly exhibition spaces, allows for a direct view of the production area.