If you ask Alessandro Munge what he most enjoys about his internationally acclaimed design practice he says it’s the strong emotional response his interior spaces invariably elicit. And those emotions vary from one space to the next, sometimes sexy and visceral like the mood evoked at night clubs like Prohibition, other times serene and contemplative like the cool vibe of his recently completed ICE condominium on Toronto’s burgeoning waterfront, or other times drop-dead elegant and Old World like his multi award-winning interiors for Vancouver’s Rosewood Hotel Georgia. And invariably there’s a sense of occasion and touch of the theatrical in most Munge spaces, which makes perfect sense for a firm that has designed some of the hottest night spots in cities as diverse as New York City and Vegas, Shanghai and LA and, of course, in his hometown of Toronto. An interior design graduate from Ryerson University, Alessandro started his business in 1997 sketching on his then girlfriend’s kitchen table. How times have changed. The girlfriend is now his wife and Studio Munge now employs scores of talented designers and support staff at his office in Toronto. And for his newest commission—the interior spaces for the Rodeo Drive condominium at the Shops at Don Mills—Alessandro has been inspired by the inherent drama involved in being a la mode, fashion forward and at the cutting edge of luxury retail culture. “When you enter one those extraordinarily luxurious stores on Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive you enter a universe where every item is not only exquisitely crafted but is also an expression what the world’s most creative people think is totally chic, sophisticated and happening right now,” notes Munge. “Window-shopping and boutique-hopping on Rodeo is like taking a crash course in the what’s happening in internation-al design right now. It’s amazing.”
Window-shopping and boutique-hopping on Rodeo is like taking a crash course in the what’s happening in international design right now. It’s amazing.
Munge’s challenge designing Toronto’s Rodeo Drive has been to create residential interiors that are elegant and sophisticated, cosmopolitan and contemporary while still remaining timeless and classic. Some designers have a knack for creating spaces that remain chic and of-the-moment eons after their creation. Does the Barcelona Chair look any less relevant now than when it was first created? Does a Jean-Michel Franck interior ever seem dated? That was the bar Munge set for himself at Rodeo Drive, and he’s succeeded brilliantly. Nowhere is that more in evidence than in what Munge terms Rodeo Drive’s “impactful” lobby with its soaring 16’ ceiling, a sculptural copper-toned metal concierge desk, striking marble feature walls and extensive blond wood paneling that add warmth to a space that “reads” as classically minimalist. That sleek modern retail look is reprised in Rodeo Drive’s exceedingly contemporary gym. Close your eyes and imagine you’re working out in a Prada boutique and you’ll get a sense of just how cool pumping iron can be at Rodeo Drive. A bright room with floor to ceiling windows, the gym overlooks a pool deck redolent of a swanky St. Barth’s resort: in the foreground, white cabanas flanking a negative edge pool and, beyond, endless vistas of the neighbourhood’s verdant and abundant parkland. All the complex’s common spaces are designed with one overarching purpose: to make social interaction between residents and their guests effortless, exciting and fun. It’s social engineering with glamour, pizzazz—and a smile on its face.