Ikanos, an Old Montreal restaurant with Mediterranean flair and the little brother to Tasso, the Saint-Denis Street institution with an expansive vision, officially opened on October 14, 2014 at 112 McGill Street. For his new Mediterranean-inflected restaurant, the ambitious owner chose an imposing space on McGill, in an old warehouse that had more recently served as an artist’s studio. He selected blazysgérard to take on the challenge of crafting a strong identity for the space.
The concept is based on a reinterpretation of the characteristic architecture of Greece and neighbouring countries. The goal was to develop an architectural language that would meet the client’s requirements while remaining consistent with the theme, without becoming a mere pastiche or stage set. Alexandre Blazys and Benoit Gérard approached the problem from a fresh, modern angle.
The bar sets the tone with a blackened steel arch, antique mirrors and deep blue barstools. By installing a constellation of smoked globe lights of varying sizes, the designers sought to echo the Mediterranean sky.
Wood and leather banquettes structure the restaurant’s space and different zones. They help maximize the restaurant’s capacity while giving guests fine views of Old Montreal. The wood and seagrass chairs are accented with sheepskin, giving the space a playful feminine touch.
Meanwhile, the designers approached the ceiling as an infinite pergola made of suspended wood planks. Spaced at regular intervals, the planks generate an interesting interplay of shadow and light on the brick and straw paper walls. Lights and service conduits are concealed above the planks, giving the space a warm, intimate character and a more human scale. Lighting at the base of the partitions is concealed inside steel mouldings, creating a visual horizon for guests.
The placement of the kitchen in the basement made it possible to consolidate all technical services on the left side of the building, which is as narrow as most others in the area. The kitchen is a major technical achievement in its own right. Faced with the need to run an enormous exhaust conduit across four levels, including a huge elbow behind the bar, the designers turned the constraint to their advantage by making the conduit the focal point and unifying element of the bar.
Other elements expand on the Mediterranean theme, such as the use of stucco on certain walls and the inclusion of raw steel posts, or black and grey slate on steps and landings, giving the space an intentional patina. Also worth mentioning are the openwork partitions in thin, braided metal harking back to the triumphal aesthetic of a bygone Greece.
Alexandre Blazys and Benoit Gérard combined their talent and expertise in 2003 to found blazysgérard, a Montreal design and architecture studio. Their mission is to create balanced, functional environments at a human scale, giving users a new emotional and artistic appreciation of the spaces they occupy.
Alexandre Blazys holds a design certificate from Central Saint Martins College, London. He has extensive experience in visual presentation for a number of furniture and design shops.
Benoit Gérard earned his degree in architecture from the Université de Montréal. He has worked in Montpellier, France and in Montreal at Dupuis LeTourneux. He is a recipient of the Prix Alcan Arcop (2000) and the Prix Habitat 67 (1999).
Official project name: Restaurant Ikanos
Location: Old Montreal
Client: Constant Mentzas
Designers: Benoit Gérard and Alexandre Blazys
Project manager: Alexandre Blazys
Collaborators: St-Jean et Fils, Ébénisterie GDPro, Serge Cantin Métal, Italbec
Furnishing budget: $250,000 for a total budget of $700,000
Project completion date: May 29, 2014
Photo credits: Jean Longpré