In stitches

Biography Design – a multi-disciplinary design consultancy based in Toronto – has a knack for collaboration. Some of its most satisfying ongoing collaborations have been with Hanif Harji of Icon Legacy Hospitality and Charles Khabouth of Ink Entertainment, who, respectively, run some of the city’s most exclusive restaurants and nightclubs, including La Société Bistro, Weslodge, F-Stop and Uniun – all of which Biography has had a hand in branding. Which brings us to Patria, a Spanish restaurant in the heart of the Entertainment district co-owned by Harji and Khabouth, and the very model of Biography Design’s branding expertise.

To make flesh the idea of “La patria” or “homeland,” of “feeling rooted and feeling at home,” Biography came up with the notion of a permanent installation. Collaborating with Commute Home, who designed Patria’s interior, Biography conceived and created a cross-stitch mural that would occupy two levels of the restaurant. “We always encourage clients to look beyond the obvious and reject the mundane,” says Marlo Onilla, Biography Design principal and design director. “Of course, taking on a project of this magnitude can present its challenges.”

That’s putting it mildly. The entire mural took over two months to complete, involving 485 hours of labour and numerous individuals to execute, headed by designer Laura Carwardine. It features more than 17,000 stitches spread over 21 separate custom copper 4-by-8-foot grids; made of hand-cut jersey strips, each stitch had to be tied individually onto each panel. Colours ranging from deep reds to vibrant blues reflect the Spanish culture, as does the image of a traditional flamenco dancer on the wall underneath, adding a muted, mysterious element.

Flawlessly executed and a marvel to behold, the mural inspired extra little design fillips: crosshatched graphics on plates, along with hand stitches on menus and uniforms. Sweet and subtle. You might say Biography Design keeps Patria’s patrons in stitches.