The stellar team behind Osteria Savio Volpe (previously) and Pepino’s Spaghetti House recently opened the doors of their third concept, La Tana in Vancouver, Canada, loosely translating to “The Den” in Italian.
Inspired by old world establishments, Caffè La Tana is an homage to the Italian alimentari: a small, neighbourhood gathering place serving pastries and simple meals; brewing strong, Italian style espresso; making fresh pasta in-house; and stocking the finest imported Italian meats, cheeses and dry goods.
Adorned with deep green marble, antique shelving and custom woodwork, classic tiled flooring, and a tailor-made, hand-drawn wallpaper, the La Tana interior, designed by Ste. Marie, evokes Italy’s elegance as influenced by the design team’s eye for the unexpected.
“We endeavoured for La Tana to be two things: elegant and effortless – a physical manifestation of the Italians’ age-old gift of making art out of life, as best exemplified by the Pasta Fresca station, where guests can watch the pastaio’s labour of love in progress,” says Craig Stanghetta, Ste. Marie Creative Director and La Tana Co-owner. “Selfishly, I wanted a place that would bring me back to my favourite memories of travelling in Italy with my family and happening upon a tiny hole in the wall that turns out to be warm, welcoming and special.”
Read on for further insights from Craig Stanghetta, Carmen Cheung (Ste. Marie Senior designer and Project lead) and Kate Richard (Designer).
+ What was the design brief for this project?
CS: I co-own the place, so we are directing the brief in many ways. Our studio has a department that focuses solely on positioning, narrative and concept development and as such, that side of the studio took the lead on working with ownership, on getting clarity of concept, product offer, experiential opportunities etc. Frankly, I’d been wanting to do a little shop like this for so long. I had been squirrelling away little ideas and pieces of the narrative whenever I would travel to Italy or hear stories from friends and family about their favourite little spots. So this phase was mostly just us following our hearts and stomachs to unearth ideas that we selfishly wanted to exist in our backyard. The idea for the name was a play on the name of our other restaurant: Savio Volpe – La Tana being the idea that it’s the Cantina of our cunning fox where he keeps his treasures.
+ What are some design details and materials you used in this project?
CC: Some design details include a hand applied plaster technique, giving an aged surface texture on the walls; a custom designed wallpaper with images pulled from archived Pomology & Zoology textbooks; a colour pallete comprised of monochromatic, muted grey-greens tones with a selection of unique marbles layered throughout. Subtle hints of orange focus attention toward the front bar, accentuating the featured daily food offerings. One of the stand out pieces was the purchase of a rare brass pendant fixture designed by Luigi Caccia Dominioni in 1965. The warm glow can be seen from outside the café in the evenings welcoming you in.
CS: We also had our friend Antique and Architectural Salvage expert Scott Landon help us find some extremely rare Italian antiques, objects and fixtures. Including a 60-year-old map of the Venice trading routes and a late 19th century Italian mirror. Another vendor that specializes in Italian plaster casting was helpful in creating ornate rosettes and wall mount sculptural elements. What I like the best however is the interplay between these classical elements and the more modernist forms of the stonework and custom art.
Ste. Marie’s inspiration for La Tana.
Ste. Marie’s concept board for La Tana.
+ Could you speak a bit more to the wallpaper?
KR: When asked to design the wallpaper for the space, I looked at it as an experiment in storytelling. I was brought on near the project’s completion, so it was really fascinating for me to be able to see the design decisions of the space come to fruition and connecting them to the narrative in which they were informed. In turn, the wallpaper explores how the foxes den becomes this neighbourhood gathering place, where food brings community together. I had fun diving into the open source archives of various libraries/museums to source the content and actually ended up gaining a fair amount of insight on botany/pomology in the process. Visually, the design of the wallpaper was inspired by the walls of Victor Hugo’s Hauteville House and Carlo Mollino’s Turin apartment, Museo Casa.
+ Was the other custom artwork informed by a similar process?
KR: Carlo Mollino was a big inspiration throughout the process of most of the art. His 1945 Casa M2 Photo Panel was a single black and white photograph mounted on 25 separate panels. We found some Italian artwork in the New York Public Libraries Public Domain archives and placed it in 16 separate frames as a homage to Mollino’s work.
+ What were the primary project influences or inspirations?
CC: We drew inspiration from Italian Architects Carlo Mollino, Carlo Scarpa and Austrian/Czech Architect Adolf Loos. La Tana is a reflection of their modern architectural style and minimalist design principals. Stone, marble and painted wood were used thoughtfully in order to set the framework and shape the interior forms, allowing them to almost feel sculpted from a common block of material/colour.
+ Any design standouts?
CC: My favourite feature has to be the front bar, especially the green marble with subtle hints of yellow and white veins flowing together. The striking orange marble ledge sweeps across the entire length, staggering at different heights as it draws your eyes further into the space.
CS: I agree with Carmen – the bar is the lifeblood of the space. It grounds everything and allows us to sort of dance around the space creating visual interest in every tiny nook and cranny. Without it I feel the space would be a bit whimsical and not have that firmness and conviction of what you’re lucky to happen upon in the ancient towns throughout Italy. So much of this place is an homage to the nobility of material, craft and culture that we couldn’t stop short and needed to lean into the old materials and techniques of the bygone masters.
That said we also have been having a lot of fun finding new interpretations of old imagery and executing them in new ways. You can see it in the custom work we had commissioned and in other pieces we executed in house. We worked with a local artist James Daviduk to hand paint another standout feature: the custom tile backdrop for the meat station which features our hero fox surrounded by a bounty of food and being hailed by his fellow forrest creatures! Oh, not to mention we have an extremely gifted designer within the studio Kate Richard who designed our wallpaper and custom artwork throughout.
The post La Tana Café in Vancouver, Canada by Ste. Marie Art and Design. appeared first on Yellowtrace.