client: INK Entertainment
designer: Munge Leung Design Associates
Reinvention is never easy, but in the restaurant business it's a necessary evil—particularly if the trendiest places want to stay current. Still, it was hard for Munge Leung Design to remodel five-year-old ULTRA. The firm's original design for one of Toronto's hottest luxury dining and clubbing spots proved so popular that the city was up in arms when word of the project leaked out. Could the architects along with the owner, INK Entertainment, match the past success?
It takes just one look at the new ULTRA to answer with a resounding, "Yes!" The original space spoke of luxury, elegance, and serious extravagance that owner Charles Khabouth felt was inappropriate for the upcoming half decade. He envisioned something "more playful." He says, "I wanted an approachable space with a bold and cheeky twist."
"The cocks can be interpreted in many ways," says Munge Leung managing partner Alessandro Munge. "They strut and preen just like the people in the restaurant." They lend volume, color, and humor to the space along with inspiring the design further, as seen in the feather design found in the lampshades of the custom pendant lighting and the bird-foot-like candlesticks.
ULTRA's old circular banquette seating gives way to movable tables and chairs along with an impressive 25-ft., solid oak table. Envisioned to act as the hub of the social dining experience, the table seats 24. Like the old ULTRA, this supper club transforms into a dance club at 11:30 p.m. Designing for those dual functions proved a challenge.
Staff moves seating to create a dance floor, while the rooster graphics retract into the ceiling. Lighting levels dim, and the oak table becomes an elevated dance floor/fashion runway where clubbers can jump on and strut their stuff. "Lighting is the most important part of a space to me," insists Khabouth. "I can work with an ugly space with great lighting, but not vice versa."
The new ULTRA still seems to be attracting the right crowd. And the rooster theme has taken off. "I got an email from someone who was inspired by them to create T-shirt graphics," says Munge. Yet not everyone is down with the chickens. Famously vegan PETA spokesperson Pamela Anderson asked that they be retracted when she dined in the space. So when Anderson walked in, the cocks went up.
“The design is focused and unafraid. This vibrant, imaginative, clever, compact space
is made more intriguing with the impressive grand-scale graphic scrim. It’s stylish and clubby with a good dose of humor, color, and sexy lighting. There is no mistake that the experience in this place is pure theater.”
Project: ULTRA. Client: INK Entertainment. Interior designer: Munge Leung Design Associates. General contractor: PT Contracting Inc. Photographer: Device222.
Wallcoverings: Graham & Brown. Paint: Benjamin Moore. Laminate: Octopus Products Ltd.Lighting fixtures: RAB Design, Contrast Lighting. Glass: SPS Glass & Metals, NGI Designer Glass Inc. Dining chairs: Sitconf. Dining tables: Castor, Ikea. Lighting fixtures: Viso Inc., Roost, Commute Home. Lounge/cocktail seating: D.A.O., Design Within Reach. Cocktail tables: Roost, Phillips Collection. Banquette/built-in seating: Marcello Custom Upholstery Ltd. Upholstery: Fabricut, Joanne/J.F. Fabrics. Window treatment: Nella’s Custom Drapery.
Location: Toronto, ON. Total floor area: 3,500 sq. ft. No. of floors: 1 main level with rooftop terrace. Cost/sq. ft.: $230/sq.ft.