The designer behind Toronto’s hottest new restaurants

Toronto would look a lot different today without Studio Munge

The award-winning interior design firm headed by Alessandro Munge (pronounced moon-jay) has been responsible for some of Toronto’s most iconic interiors for over 20 years. Today, it’s easily one of the biggest driving forces behind the city’s push for all things luxury.

With a portfolio that ranges from culture drivers like the now-shuttered epochal mega club Guvernment to restaurants du-jour like Figo and posh hotels like Bisha, Studio Munge’s visions for where we eat, sleep, and play, have long defined Toronto’s version of upscale elegance.

Today, the design firm is still going full throttle. Just this week, Munge’steam won a Build 2018 Architecture Award for their work on the acclaimed restaurant Akira Back, and they’ve got another 15 massive establishments in the works.

There’s the highly anticipated Nobu, the first location in Canada in collaboration with Robert DeNiro slated for completion in 2022, and the luxury condo 50 Scollard that will soon begin construction in Toronto’s shi-shi Yorkville area – just to name a few.

And despite the fact that Munge’s creations are uniformly airy, elegant, and pliable, the firm has a unique ability to combine a sense of intimacy with elements of luxe and leisure.

The motif of Akira Back’s restaurant, for instance, is based loosely off watercolour works by the celebrity chef’s mother, while at Madrina – one of Munge’s favourite spots this summer – a playful decor is the embodiment of Catalonian whimsy.

“Our spaces usually feature a great deal of custom furniture design,” says Munge. “And because of that we’re able to create that impactful feature in an authentic manner.”

These days, it’s not hard to spot a Munge project. Usually glamourous and highly publicized, it’s less about exact features and more a vibe, from the cathedral-esque arches he seems to favour down to the Italian-made chairs and custom cut marble tables.

“We don’t have specific lighting structures, chairs, pallets or even aesthetics but all our projects do possess at least one ‘wow’ moment,” he says.

According to Munge, there’s no specific source for the inspiration behind those moments, from “rough stone textures or the grooves in the sand made by the ocean tide.”

Alessandro Munge’s ascent is a Canadian success story in full motion, from moving to Toronto via Abruzzo at just five years-old to learning how to design at his mother’s drapery store and graduating from Ryerson’s interior design program to starting his own Toronto firm.

“I grew up in a very diverse and welcoming community in the north end of the city,” says Munge.

“Over the years, I’ve loved witnessing this mindset of inclusivity grow and evolve Toronto into the multicultural and inspiring metropolis that it is today.”


Written by Tanya Mok for blogTO