Premier Hospitality’s features Restaurant & Bar Design Award Finalists

In the awards issue, Premier Hospitality features Miser C., Akira Back, and Lionfish

Mister C.

Mister C. embodies the decadence and sophistication of the quintessential hotel lobby bar. At its core the lounge is classically rooted but finds balance thorough modern touches and a commitment to impeccable food and service.

Beating life and lust into Toronto’s Entertainment District, Bisha is the premium destination for inspired nightlife. Designed to host the city’s most lavish cocktail experience, Studio Munge’s vision of seductive hospitality extends to Miser C. with a sultry yet sophisticated deviance.

Speaking to Premier Hospitality International, thought leader and Studio Munge’s Principal Alessandro Munge said: “Mister C. is just one of four F&B destinations that Studio Munge designed in Bisha. The boutique hotel – a dream project of our long-time client and hospitality maverick Charles Khabouth, was designed by our studio so the involvement happened organically through the confidence Khabouth had in our ability to bring his vision to life.

During the design process, our studio was living and breathing Bisha. In creating the hotel’s lobby lounge, we didn’t need a brief. We understood the emotions and dramatic ambience expected by the client and from there Mister C. evolved. The lounge would provoke the inhibitions of the day to be released and for a departure into the night to take over.”

Inspired by the intricate patterns of an Alexander McQueen dress

Inspired by the intricate patterns of an Alexander McQueen dress, the lobby bar treats hotel guests and cosmopolitan urbanites to a sensual journey through elegant depths of lush materiality. Featuring striking and subtly integrated design details, the lounge is cloaked in rich textures and custom furnishings.

Alessandro added: “The placement and design of Mister C.’s furniture program is what makes the space feel so different and unique. Gone are the days of oversized and immovable chairs. The low lounge seating is coupled in close arrangements enticing intimacy and freed inhibitions. The slender dimensions and diversity within leather layers and soft emerald textures encourage movement and social interaction between guests.

“With special attention to space planning, the guest is drawn deep into the darkness of Mister C. by a gold circular fireplace. As glowing custom scones light the way, the round metal pierces through a striking verde antico marble wall. These moments of wonder and awe continuously energize the guest experience and promise an evolving sense of discovery throughout the evening and upon return.”

The project has recently been shortlisted for a 2018 Restaurant & Bar Design award in the category of American Bars. Now in its tenth year, the Restaurant & Bar Design awards are a globally recognised competition dedicated to the design of food and beverage spaces.

Alessandro Munge concluded: “Within its first year, Mister C. has swept newsstands. Gracing the cover of Boutique Design, Mister C. has also been featured in publications such as Hospitality Design, NUVO, Toronto Life, the Chicago Tribute, and Contract Magazine. Recognized for its sultry yet, welcoming ambiance the lounge was a finalist in this year’s AHEAD Awards and has been shortlisted in the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards taking place in the fall.”

Akira Back

At the heart of Toronto’s vibrant Entertainment District, ICONIK introduces Akira Back to their highly anticipated
hotel Bisha. Chef Akira Back’s namesake restaurant is a modern and glamorous expression of the Japanese
dining experience.

Encased in stunning layered gold volumes, the entry from the hotel’s main floor leads guests though an extraordinary journey that ignites the imagination. A holistic statement of tactile finishes in black and charcoal tones and lavish materials balance the grand design features; an impactful cove ceiling canvas to a colourful custom graphic. The journey concludes at the destination sushi bar illuminated by layers of gold extending from floor-to-ceiling and immersing guests into spectacular statements of luxury. Studio Munge’s design pays homage to traditional Japanese dining while reinventing a distinguished culinary experience. Studio Munge’s Principal, Alessandro Munge spoke to Premier Hospitality International about the project and its recent nomination at the Restaurant & Bar Design awards.

What was the brief for this project?
“Akira Back’s story is part of a much bigger picture. More than a restaurant, we created a culinary destination in downtown Toronto that excites and inspires guests from within a design focused and art centric Bisha hotel. Multi-layered and immersive, Akira Back’s design had to complement the hotel’s other F&B venues while distinctively embracing its own persona.”

When did the project start, and when did it complete?
“The conception of Akira Back began long before construction. A dream hospitality project of our long-time client and hospitality innovator, Charles Khabouth, Bisha has been a collaboratively creative commitment over the past seven years.”


Can you guide us around the site a little – if we were to walk in for the first time, what kind of things would we see?
“Akira Back is a journey that starts and finishes in glowing gold volumes. As guests walk into the building, they are carried upwards by a sculptural staircase in a dazzling gold leaf finish. The imaginative bold contrasts begin the moment the guest reaches the second-floor which reveals Akira Back’s dimly lit interiors featuring a jetblack furniture program, tactile leathered marble surfaces, and expressive columns. An undulating custom designed mobile pierces through the centre of the arched ceiling which is hand painted in indigo flower petals. Blackened charcoal wood cladding frames the destination sushi bar – a golden haven of culinary expertise glowing in dark.”

Were there any difficulties or challenges with the project?
“Located on Bisha’s second floor, the narrow floor plan presented an interesting challenge for our team. We had to design an entry that would excite rather than deter guests from taking the stairs upward, while Akira Back’s narrow dimensions allowed us to experiment with elements of light and dark.”

How important is this project for you?
“Every project, large or small, hotel or restaurant, public or private, is important to our studio. The dedication and passion that we pour into each
concept, custom detail and final coordination is part of a larger contribution to the future of hospitality.”

How does it feel to be shortlisted for a Restaurant & Bar Design Award?
“To be shortlisted in the 2018 Restaurant & Bar Design Awards represents Studio Munge’s vision of pushing the boundaries of interior design through new and unique approaches.”


Located only minutes away from Seaport Village and Marina Bay in San Diego’s Gaslamp District, Lionfish opened its doors as the main F&B outlet at the Pendry, a boutique hotel for those seeking contemporary luxury. Designed with a shimmering Pacific Ocean sunset in mind, Lionfish offers a sophisticated yet comfortable dining experience to the Californian seafood lover. Blending an authentic coastal bistro style with an industrial edge, the restaurant’s enduring qualities are conveyed through the use of lasting natural materials and intricate detailing. Those include natural oak, white wash exposed brick, tiled ceilings, raw metal detailing and an extensive custom FF&E program.

Speaking to Premier Hospitality International magazine about the project is Studio Munge’s visionary Principal Alessandro Munge: “Having collaborated on multiple Las Vegas projects, our partners at Clique Hospitality turned to us to take their hotel restaurant to the next level. With Lionfish’s San Diego location, the project marked our first restaurant in California.

“The designers were challenged with modernising thematic coastal motifs expected by both the local community and travellers. The design had to feel like an exciting and unique experience without overwhelming guests with contemporary sensibilities. Our team had to find a balance that would elevate San Diego’s dining scene without intimidation.”

Lionfish begins with the bar and lounge seating on the ground floor and expands onto a street level patio; and dining moves upwards to the mezzanine level.



Beyond the double-height lounge and bar the ample circular banquettes and their supportive wood panelling, evocative of sailboat docks, offer guests intimacy. Upholstered in a natural colour palette including marine blues, warm ivory chevron and cognac leathers, the ground floor dining and lounge seating were designed to comfortably complement the warmth of the traditional cement tiles and oak floors used to define each space. Very much a showstopper, the kitchen features an impressive arched raw steel trellis and clear glass façade, as well as porthole windows reinforcing the maritime atmosphere.

The upper mezzanine, much lighter in its finishes and muted colour palette of pebble grey, water crest and lichen greens, offers striking views on the main hall’s grand chandelier and iridescent slate bar top. Through wall scones, globe pendants and bespoke chandeliers – all custom made from uniquely found objects and reminiscent of fishing lanterns – the diffused shimmering light wraps the entire space with a remarkable sense of ease, setting the guest up for the brilliant dining experience ahead.

Since opening in 2017, the restaurant has been met with rave reviews, as well as being shortlisted in the Restaurant & Bar Design awards.

Commenting on the project’s success, Alessandro said: “A now San Diego favourite, Lionfish is celebrated for its authentic, yet distinguished ambiance from both a design and local foodie perspective. Holding recent finalist positions in Hospitality Design’s Nightlife Awards and Restaurant and Bar Design Awards, Lionfish is being noticed for Studio Munge’s twist on and application of coastal elements and motifs. In addition, since its much-anticipated opening in early 2017, the restaurant has attracted coverage from design focused and food-centric publications including Architectural Digest, Forbes, Eater, San Diego Magazine, Zagat and Food & Beverage Magazine.”