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Osteria Savio Volpe

Osteria Savio Volpe

Ste. Marie
615 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5T 3K5, Canada | View Map
Project Year
Knauf and Brown ©2015

Osteria Savio Volpe

Ste. Marie as Architects

Savio Volpe is a restaurant styled after the classic osteria – rustic fare in the Italian tradition of freshness and regionality, using groceries gathered in the nearby lakes, oceans, farms and fields. Everything is prepared in the simplest, most flavourful way; pasta is handmade fresh every day – fatto a mano in casa – meat, poultry and fish are kissed by smoke over the wood-fired grill and rotisserie. And of course, a long list of friendly Italian wines, and old world coffee are offered to inspire conversation and good cheer. Above all else, Savio celebrates liveliness, warmth and hospitality. Viva la convivialità!

About Design:

Osteria Savio Volpe / Design:

The restaurant is a synthesis of what we call Italian Farmhouse Modern. The design was strongly inspired by three icons of Italian design: Carlo Mollino, Bruno Munari, and Enzo Mari. The result is a balance of simplicity, drama, and irreverence. The finishes are rooted in an earthy quality much like most roadside Osteria’s or country Trattorias found throughout Italy. In that same vein, the food, wine, products, herbs, and preserves are given as much focus as the paintings on the walls. An ongoing interplay between assertive and simple, elemental and modernist is a mainstay of Italian culture. We tried to capture that quintessential Italian juxtaposition by running the theme of humble vs pretty throughout the design. The mix of sconces with fabric lampshades and opaline glass highlight the apposing influence of modernist and "nonna" style in our lighting design. A similar exchange can be seen in the pleated oak walls that act as a modest rhythmic backdrop from which the mix of sartorial banquet seating stands out.

As a nod to a simpler time, we keep a courtesy phone at the ready for those who require a lift home after dinner and packing away a Demi John of wine with friends and family.

The design was undertaken by Ste. Marie who’s principal, Craig Stanghetta, is also co-owner of the venture. Ste. Marie is a studio that has a strategy based focus, the design direction is a marriage of their deep understanding of the business’s goals (a neighbourhood joint that is accessible yet elevated) and design insight that they use to understand and enhance those goals. This can be seen in the design and programming of the central eating bar that becomes the nerve centre of the room and helps to create a strong community nucleus in the restaurant. The bespoke shelving that surrounds the open kitchen and frames the wood-fired grill and rotisserie is also used to showcase the restaurants beautiful collection of Italian groceries, house made preserves, and unique Italian wines.

The design strives to be focused and ordered while remaining warm, fun, and welcoming.

If you have any further questions about the design at Osteria Savio Volple please reach out to Ste. Marie as we’d be very happy to discuss the design in greater detail. This project has been a labour of love and there is a wealth of narrative that has guided the design. We simply can’t capture the nuance in such brevity.There are several skilled trades and craftspeople who deserve due credit for their collaboration and execution of a lovely space, we would love to sing their praise when we talk.

Design Q&A:


What was the inspiration for the interior design?

Our inspiration came primarily from the concept of the classic “Osteria”. That and a fictional muse we established when we created our Namesake: Savio Volpe. We thought of him as a loving patriarch that was curious, resourceful, and caring. We imagined he would be as passionate about his vegetable garden as he would be about art, culture & design. The restaurant is the intersection of pragmatic and ethereal, gritty and pretty. We found a tremendous amount of inspiration in some of the great Italian designers - among others, our practice is unapologetically in love with Ponti and Scarpa, but in this instance, it was Bruno Munari, Carlo Mollino and Enzo Mari who were our guiding lights.

Can you talk a bit about the materials you chose?

We selected modest materials that have an earthen quality. Quarry tile, pleated wood panelling, solid oak, and steel are the staples of the palette. We wanted the material to have a strong/warm quality that would allow us to push the degree of order, simplicity, and modernity while maintaining a tether to the farmhouse or tavern ideology that’s at the heart of the restaurant concept. In the same way a kerchief, patterned tie, or a pair of playful socks give bravado and audacity to an otherwise understated suit, the upholstery throughout the space stands apart from, and give life to the minimal and quiet materials.

We were inspired by the work of Enzo Mari while designing the furniture and shelving. We began from the standpoint that these pieces should retain the feel of something that could be knocked together in the garage. Although the shelving and banquets evolved with a degree of elegance as the design progressed they remain rooted in an honest, unadorned simplicity. The other end of the spectrum is represented in some of machined and mechanized metalwork. This is something we respect and admire about Italian design culture - the ability to balance hand crafted simplicity with technology and calculated construction.

Who is the lighting by?

The lighting was designed in house at Ste. Marie and executed by local fabricators. The wall lighting takes cues from religious typology, we found that the forms evoke a degree of iconic order while the light they emit is soft, warm, and inviting. The chandelier was conceived as a riff on the classic Stilnovo chandeliers and some of the lighting found in the work of Carlo Mollino. We’ve always admired these designs for their ability to balance elegance and drama.

Did you work with any local craftspeople for any of the furnishings?

A lot of the design is bespoke including custom shelving, lighting, and seating. Skilled trades and craftspeople were key in taking on the challenging task of realizing these pieces. Lock & Mortice Build Co. was instrumental in fabricating the custom woodwork for the furniture and the dowel style shelving system. We also worked closely with a metal fabrication company called Fabrikaat to mill the custom lighting, stand alone metal bar unit and baskets for the kitchen display system. It was a deeply collaborative, rigorous, and rewarding process.

What about the art? Who is it by:

Various sources:

The two prints on the North wall, through which a set of art lights are threaded, are from an Italian artist named Edoardo De Falchi. He was kind enough to sell us the digital file so that we could execute this unusual treatment of his work. We spoke with him and detailed what we intended, he was charmed by it and eager to see the result. Some of the other artwork was undertaken in house by Ste. Marie using images in the public domain and giving them a Bruno Munari style collage treatment. Others are classic in origin, we enlarged,cropped and mounted them in dramatic and unconventional ways, twisting traditional and modern together. Other pieces were thrift shop and antique finds that were collected over a number of years. The pair of theatrical masks are a good example of eclectic ephemera being placed to stand in counterpoint to more contemporary pieces.

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