Mediterranean Design Charm Beckons at Abrielle Restaurant by DesignAgency

A colourful bar, lounge, and dining areas make up this new Toronto restaurant.

Designing a hotel restaurant is no easy feat. It has to appeal to a wide range of clientele from weary solo travellers to large groups to business associates, all while serving as an ambassador for the hotel to locals. There’s also the challenge of additional stakeholders and the impact the restaurant’s vibe has on the lobby experience, explains Matt Davis, founding partner of DesignAgency. The secret, says Davis, who recently completed Toronto’s new Sutton Place Hotel restaurant Abrielle with his team, is close collaboration throughout the design process, and Toronto-based DesignAgency worked with both The Ascari Group and Northland Properties for the three spaces that make up the Mediterranean eatery.

Situated in Toronto’s Entertainment District in the landmark Westinghouse building, “its historical character has been preserved on the exterior, but the interior had been stripped and chopped into a maze of spaces with no intuitive flow,” says Davis. “There weren’t even restrooms.” The reimagined open-concept floor plan allows for a natural flow of energy between the hotel, street, and restaurant and the restaurant’s interiors were inspired by the coastal Mediterranean cuisine that is served up.






To protect diners from Toronto’s fluctuating temperatures, they enter through a vestibule with interiors clad in floral wallpaper and glowing biophilic wall sconces. Two sides are primarily glass with wine-red arched details. After exiting the vestibule, visitors come to a small entryway dominated by a slatted smoked mirror host stand, custom-designed by DesignAgency, with two round brass bases. Maroon millwork accents adorn the hidden storage compartments in the wall, matching the vestibule and the mushroom-shaped lamp on the stand.

To the left, the lounge beckons with eclectic charm and walls filled with art. White fluted podium tables and yellow chairs with a windowpane patterned back run alongside the large windows. In the centre of the room, overtop a custom swirling blue rug, wood-topped tables accompany Mid Century Modern-style chairs with burgundy seats, blue swivel tub chairs in a stylized chevron pattern, and a blue banquette with floral trim. A large collection of art in mismatched frames hangs asymmetrically from wood panels that run vertically down the wall, meeting the wide dark wood baseboards. With built-in wood shelves filled with Romanesque busts and vases and a cozy symphony of colour, texture, furniture, the lounge emits a sense of homey comfort, a welcome relief after a long day of travel.






Off the right of the entryway, a glamorous seating area centres around a large stone-topped bar surrounded by teal stools, a particular favourite element of Davis. “Even among so many successful design moves, the bar stands out,” he says. “The curved, upholstered leather bar front panels and the bullnose edge profile of the stone top are a beautiful complement to the stunning back bar, which fills the restaurant’s western windows and leverages the bustling city as an animated backdrop.” A wall clad in veined calacatta viola marble abuts the bar and a floor-to-ceiling smoked glass mirror. Overseeing the space is a three-panelled mural of the Mediterranean coast by artist Tammy Flynn Sebold that transports diners and imbibers to Èze, France.

The Intimate dining room, a long light-filled space with an open kitchen, is reached through a doorway embellished with rosso levanto turco marble in the back of the bar. “We designed these dramatic thresholds to signal a change of setting. “The transitions are reinforced by other subtle shifts,” says Davis. “Every aspect was meticulously considered and tied back to Abrielle’s narrative.”




In the dining room, herringbone hardwood floors, dimensional ceramic wall tiles, and coffered ceilings set the scene of quiet grandeur. A red banquette wraps the length of the room paired with cushioned indigo chairs, and overhead hang petaled white chandeliers. Tucked toward the back of the room is a semi-private dining nook, with a large U-shaped settee in tones of green, allowing quieter conversation while enjoying the energy of the main dining area.

To maintain fluidity throughout the trio of spaces, certain elements appear throughout—the seafoam green ceilings, petalled chandeliers, blue and white café curtains, indigo chairs, whimsical burgundy sconces, and textural cream wall panels create a dialogue across multiple rooms.

“I’m extremely proud of my team and the effort that went into all the details for Abrielle,” Davis says. “There are a lot of moments to be proud of, from the rich material mix and custom lighting to the painted shiplap ceilings and eclectic seating.”

Photography by Maya Visnyei.