Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | YellowtraceEarls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

 

The work of Vancouver-based interior design studio Ste. Marie explores the juicy intersection of identity, strategy and the human codes that underpin any successful commercial space. The root of their practice is finding the perfect counterpoint of art and science – that is, balancing pragmatic strategy by helping businesses succeed through optimising business metrics, with creating a sense of narrative, awe, and allure in each project.

Their client, Earls, is a well-established, family-owned, premium casual restaurant chain with 66 locations around Canada and the US. With an ongoing mission to innovate, Earls felt it needed to refresh their existing restaurant concept so it commissioned Ste. Marie and Glasfurd + Walker to initiate Project 67. Earls wanted to push the boundaries, anticipate trends in their market sector and offer fresh experiences to the customer and workforce without compromising on the reliability and reputation of the brand.

 

Related Post: Kissa Tanto Japanese-Italian Restaurant & Bar in Vancouver by Ste. Marie.

 

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

 

The goal was to create a one-off prototype restaurant in Calgary, Alberta, where new ideas in food, service, and décor could be developed and tested by the company with the goal to reinvigorate this steadfast brand. The challenge was to imagine a prototype concept as something Earls would do if they had never before opened a restaurant (or 66, to be exact). The concept for Project 67 sets up what at first appear to be contradictions, but in fact are ‘complementary opposites’.

To that end the design of the interior uses a subtle mix of high and lowbrow, the materials throughout are quite elemental in nature and skew more earthy and primal than posh: basalt, bleached walnut and hot rolled steel contrast with oversized chandeliers, intricate glass installations and striking large-scale still photography. Without forsaking coherence in the overall design direction, the space is broken up into several micro zones, each offering a different experience. Because the whole space is about exploration and experiment, much of the furniture and lighting is bespoke – a deliberate strategy to avoid too much déjà-vu with regard to other restaurant environments. From the warm, inviting ‘Lobby Lounge’ and the bright, streamlined ‘Canteen’ to the casual ‘Beer Bar’ and the opulent ‘Bankers Bar’; Earls.67 is a fashion-forward embodiment of the reliability and reputation of the brand.

Read on for a Q&A with interior designers Emma Grant(EG) + Craig Stanghetta (CS).

 

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

 

+Tell us about your design approach.

CS: The idea was that in a space this vast and with the frequency of visits we expected from the guests we wanted them to be able to dictate their experience to a degree and/or allow for a sense of discovery in a multi-space venue. This also allows the space to be quite self directed for the guest during shoulder times within the day when it’s not a lunch or dinner crunch. So if, for example a guest wants to visit at2 pm, have a good cup of coffee and work alone on their laptop they have access to space that fosters that. If however at the same time they’re in a cocktail,conversation frame of mind the Bankers Bar is made to enhance and support that guest experience. The way we achieve it is through space programming, shifts in colour and the vernacular of the furniture i.e; darker, lusher, softer and more cloistered forms paired with darker colours and lighting frame the guest experience in the bar as opposed more egalitarian seating, cleaner lines and amore open concept help support the canteen aesthetic. We have reoccurring materials that form a through line throughout and we always return to a base note so that we ensure that it always feels well tethered to the larger narrative. Almost like a well designed home always has the homeowners ethos and personality in its bones even though the mood and intention of the study can be starkly different than that of the dining room or living area.

 

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

 

+ What is your favourite aspect about this project?

CS: The lion’s share of the furniture was custom designed and fabricated for the space. Again we wanted to have people feel as though this place was an exploration and experiment. So if they can reference too many aspects or they’ve seen too many pieces in other restaurants you loose a little bit of the magic.

EG: The rhino bust tiles were custom designed and are all made by hand in Minnesota by In Plainsight Art. The back bar was a labour of love, conceptualised by our studio and Glasfurd + Walker, and realised by the talented team at Amuneal in Philadelphia.

CS: We commissioned a young, super talented design studio, Knauf and Brown to make a bespoke floor lamp for us. They turned out beautifully – like golden Cobras! The lunestra style pendants are also custom by Ste Marie and you can see the Bauhaus influence there.

+ How long have you been working on Earls.67? When did the project commence?

CS: We’ve been working on it for about 3 yrs. We spent about 18 months working through R&D,digging into food culture trends and directions. It also took quite awhile to get acquainted with the client, create the working frame work, properly contextualise the process and set clear goals. After that, the process of defining the concept, drilling down on food and beverage programming that paired with our insights and aspects that we wanted to test took some time as well. It is the standard case the execution is never easy because of the sheer amount of work and coordination but once we had the concept, strategy and goals in place the execution (both designing and construction) was a natural extension of the bedrock work that came first.

 

 

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

 

+ Explain the process of collaboration between yourself and Glasfurd + Walker? How did you two, as designers, come together? What was it like to work with another design firm? How did each of your design aesthetics inform the other?

CS: Glasfurd + Walker and Ste Marie have been working together closely for the past seven years on Vancouver’s most successful restaurant concepts. We choose to collaborate because we share common goals,values and ideas, and believe our collective skillset offers formidable range of expertise for our clients. Since we both have our own areas of specialisation the collaboration works very well.

We’ve developed a shorthand as an organic method of information exchange. We do think differently but we are aligned; our experiences give alternative points of view, which make the resulting work stronger. The outcome doesn’t need to be directed by one studio or another;like any great collaboration it’s about trust and subtle influence. Our ideas spark theirs and vice versa. We’ve since formalised our process to synthesise best practices for bringing in the right kind of clients for our design approach and philosophy, as we agree this is really important for a successful creative process. We love having technical constraints and client goals continually injected into the process, pushing us for balanced solutions. It’s a very enjoyable and natural collaboration.

Our projects have always been very collaborative yet independently split in terms of scope. Glasfurd + Walker handles all the branding and graphic design, while Ste Marie interprets how the brand physically lives within the space, so that the interiors help shape and complete the atmosphere, ambience and whole customer experience.

 

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

Earls 67 Concept Restaurant in Calgary by Ste. Marie | Yellowtrace

 

+ What did you learn during the project?

EG: The biggest learnings came from working on a restaurant of this scale, to date this 400+ seat restaurant is our largest completed project. Everything was scaled up with great magnitude – larger project team, increased amount of coordination, the vast number of details to consider. An additional learning with a project of this size, was the wear and tear it needs to stand up to. Earls works in incredibly high-volumes so the design and materials had to be constructed and considered in a way that they would stand the test of time.

+ Any interesting/funny/ quirky facts you could share with us?

EG: Here are pieces throughout the restaurant that reference back to the first Earls restaurant and the original brand imagery -pieces that are either an inside joke or fun references to the 80’s. The parrot art and the rhino busts are both new takes on the vintage Earls brand; but we also saved the giant bronze pig from the original restaurant and placed it on a pedestal in the foyer. The joke is a bit sinister, but the pig actually faces forlornly towards the kitchen. It wasn’t intentional but paints a pretty humorous picture in the end.

 

Related Post: Osteria Savio Volpe Vancouver by Ste. Marie Inspired by a Fictitious Character.

 

 


[Interior images courtesy of Ste Marie & branding/ packing images courtesy of Glasfurd & Walker. Interior Photography by Jamie Hyatt.]

 

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