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Azure - - SPOTLIGHT - WORDS _David Dick-agnew stu­dio­junc­

Grant van Gameren’s com­pany, Over­bud­get Inc., is a culi­nary jug­ger­naut with six hit bars and restau­rants across Toronto and more on the way. But when he ap­proached lo­cal firm Stu­dio Junc­tion to con­ceive a test kitchen for Over­bud­get’s HQ, he was look­ing for some­thing com­pletely un­like the typ­i­cal restau­rant set-up. “We wanted some­thing light and airy, a space that you could feel re­ally good in,” van Gameren says. The 68-square-me­tre kitchen needed enough flex­i­bil­ity to al­low the team to hold meet­ings, work on new recipes, train em­ploy­ees and host events rang­ing from in­ti­mate din­ners to launch par­ties for up to 200, all with equal fi­nesse. “A test kitchen is a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal,” ex­plains Chris­tine Ho Ping Kong, Stu­dio Junc­tion’s co-founder. “It has to be able to feel in­ti­mate, and then it also has to feel ex­pan­sive.” The room’s ver­sa­til­ity doesn’t end with its func­tion­al­ity; a key pa­ram­e­ter for the de­sign was that it serve as a back­drop for cre­ativ­ity. “We host many dif­fer­ent brands, and they all have their own style,” van Gameren says. “Keep­ing the space bright and min­i­mal means any­one can put their per­sonal touch on it.” The fi­nal look draws from Scan­di­navia and Ja­pan for an am­bigu­ous min­i­mal­ism that can be restyled with just a few sim­ple changes. Stu­dio Junc­tion per­son­ally man­u­fac­tured sev­eral be­spoke el­e­ments, in­clud­ing the in­tri­cate mill­work. Else­where, it con­veyed the core moves van Gameren needed to make, but left him to ex­e­cute them as he wished. For in­stance, the firm ad­vised that the back wall, a fo­cal point vis­i­ble from ev­ery an­gle in the room, should be fin­ished with dark sur­fac­ing; il­lu­mi­nated by a sky­light over­head, the dark wall looks es­pe­cially strik­ing and has enough grav­ity to bal­ance the vis­ual noise of the bar. “Grant could’ve used black metal or paint there,” says Ho Ping Kong. Ul­ti­mately, he opted for a Sile­stone slab in Char­coal Soap­stone – a coun­ter­point to the glacier-white coun­ter­tops. De­spite all the hard sur­fac­ing, the aes­thetic is not at all rigid. “There’s a flu­id­ity to the space,” Ho Ping Kong ex­plains. “The core items are very time­less, but as soon as you start chang­ing up the ac­ces­sories, it looks com­pletely dif­fer­ent.”

TOP: The Over­bud­get of­fices fea­ture a Sile­stone Char­coal Soap­stone back­splash and Dek­ton Glacier coun­ter­tops.

ABOVE: The white oak stools, from Cooli­can & Com­pany’s Palmer­ston col­lec­tion, were hand­picked by Stu­dio Junc­tion.

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