In Montreal’s St-Henri, a neighbourhood known for its industrial history, century-old buildings populate the main arteries of Notre-Dame W and Rue Saint-Jacques. Tucked between Westmount and the Lachine Canal, the neighbourhood’s out-of-use factories and warehouses makes it an attractive destination for adaptive reuse. Ivy Studio, a design firm known for some of the city’s most intricate interiors, brought their innovative touch to an old warehouse turned liveable office for Vention’s new headquarters.
The space, monolithic and mostly devoid of natural light, was at first glance an odd choice for an office. The massive existing structure system was “a challenge to work around — but it plays an integral part in the design, putting forth the relationship between the old and the new,” remarks Ivy Studio’s Philip Staszewski.
Built by Groupe Manovra, the 1,300 square-metre headquarters is meant to replicate the brand’s aesthetic, in all aspects. Vention, a Montreal-based company that offers customized aluminum extrusions for automated manufacturing, as well as product designs from industrial furniture to palletizers, came with an easily identifiable brand signature — their trademark “Vention Blue.” The hue is echoed in multiple places, from the broadloom carpet in the conference room to the bold accent walls.
To put forward the brand’s manufacturing identity, Studio Ivy opted for industrial materials: corrugated steel sheets. When perforated, these sheets allowed the designers to play with transparency — infusing a sense of lightness in welcome contrast with the heavy-duty metal joinery. In addition, some of Vention’s own machines are integrated into the space, serving as both a decor feature and a reminder of the brand’s intentions.
The walls and ceilings, painted a brilliant white, create a blank backdrop for the blue masses to take centre stage. Polished concrete flooring was covered with a bright and high-shine epoxy coating to ensure the smooth surface is easy to maintain and highly durable. Against these sleek surfaces, the weighty industrial presence of Vention’s aluminum machinery stands out as much as its bright, cobalt blue colours.
In the kitchen, an island separates the work areas from a more sociable gathering space. Above the island, a monolithic structure lit up from within projects a warm glow onto the otherwise stark dining area. Vertical neon lights, camouflaged by perforated metal screens, create a dappled and restrained lighting effect to complement the vivid blue and white combinations throughout, while curtains allow for privacy and flexibility in the conference space.
Custom tables were designed by Studio Ivy in collaboration with Vention; their tops consist of blue smoked glass panels, held up by Vention’s own aluminum extrusions.
Part office, part showroom, Studio Ivy devised a design that would integrate the company’s culture and history — while offering a pleasant, functional workspace. As Staszewski insists:“It was our intention that the colours and materials used in this space make it only suitable for Vention’s team — not any other start-up company.”
In Montreal, a former warehouse becomes an adaptable, bold office space.