Raise a Glass
The familiar dark red apéritif has been a saloon staple for over a century and a half, enlivening the Negroni, Sanguinea and Americano of elbow-benders the world over. And that isn’t a euphemism: Campari is available in over 190 nations, and its parent company, Gruppo Campari, comprises 50 beverage brands that span spirits, the core business, as well as wines and soft drinks.
This global reach means a need for global offices, and when Campari fixed their gaze on Canada, the company wanted an office space that not only inspired and invigorated its working staff, but also projects the spirit of the company. Hence Toronto’s Liberty Village: a neighbourhood that is home to industrial, century-old buildings that have been retrofitted to accommodate the commercial needs of the city’s exploding creative enterprises. For Campari Canada’s new corporate offices, Toronto-based design firm I-V stepped in and skillfully overhauled an old black box film studio, devoid of windows, into a light-filled multi-purpose space whose design touches are infused with references to the imagery and branding of Gruppo Campari products.
The basic geometries and composition of the office space were largely inspired by several of Campari’s iconic advertising posters, particularly one from 1928 emblazoned with text that reads ‘He Distractedly Put the Bitter Campari on His Head’ and designed by Italian Futurist artist Fortunato Depero. Many of the space’s textural patterns and volumes, such as teal and navy rubber flooring, laser-cut ash plywood and white Corian finishes, were derived from the company’s brands. Featuring several communal spaces, the office aims to blend both work and play, with breakout/relaxing/play spaces resting atop freestanding architectural volumes that enclose meeting rooms and offices, which in effect creates a liminal zone that floats in the middle of the large open cube.
With plans to leverage the space for intimate events and entertaining, a large free-standing bar serves as the centerpiece, showcasing each of the Group’s pillar brands including Aperol, Campari and Wild Turkey, SKYY Vodka, Carolans Irish Cream, Appleton Estate Rum, Espolòn Tequila and Forty Creek Whisky (its Grimsby, Ontario-based Forty Creek Distillery location will continue to serve as the company’s production facility where whiskies are aged, blended and bottled. This location also provides office space to Human Resources and finance staff).
“Our concept for Campari Canada was to capture ‘the spirit of the party.’ We wanted to create an environment that is rich in colour and bold in scale, while striking the perfect balance between offices that facilitated day-to-day operations and a space that allowed for events and informal gatherings to take place,” says Emil Teleki, design director at I-V. “The final design is a series of fully enclosed, semi-enclosed and open spaces divided by translucent walls and materials that embody the Campari history.” (Incidentally, speaking of history, vegans should rejoice: the dye used to produce the rich red colour in Gaspare Campari’s original recipe was taken from crushed cochineal insects; it’s now artificially coloured.)