In the heart of the Village – one of the liveliest areas of Montreal – Ivy Studio created a new home for creative agency M.A.D. Collectif that invites collaboration and experimentation
No two days at M.A.D. Collectif headquarters are alike. The Montréal creative agency (formerly known as Groupe Sensation Mode) has deftly executed large-scale fashion, art, and design events for more than 20 years, manifesting in a new high-energy office abuzz with pop-ups, exhibits, and countless collaborative meetings.
M.A.D. is comprised of “lively people who have millions of ideas,” says Philip Staszewski, architect and partner at Ivy Studio, the local practice behind the collective’s 3,600-square-foot home. With that passion in mind, Staszewski and his team transformed a run-down ground-floor print shop dating from 1939 into a flexible laboratory that invites experimentation.
The sole windows are found along the façade, and the natural light that streams through them propelled Ivy Studio to turn the front section into both a social hub that has the air of a café and an open lounge that is ripe for photo and video shoots.
Situated underneath linear lighting, a 16-foot-long, ceramic-wrapped ramp evocative of a runway leads to the workstations in back. An area originally reinforced in concrete, it is nearly two feet higher than the rest of the floor plan, forming an organic segue between the public and private spheres. Stretching across both zones is track lighting, buoyed by projectors.
Ivy Studio’s narrative is guided by the notion of imperfection, “inspired by the unfinished building,” explains Staszewski. “Raw materials are the focus.” But the challenge was ensuring that the intent behind their usage was conveyed. “It must look like design, rather than construction. It couldn’t be sloppy,” he adds.
One such example is the backlit assemblage of metal studs rising to the ceiling that display signage during M.A.D. happenings. “A hidden LED strip shoots the walls with light,” says Staszewski. “Those are the types of details that make it feel finished.”
Conceived as a blank canvas, the café’s existing walls, plumbing, and ventilation equipment were all painted white, while equally snowy ceramic tiles climb four feet high in the sunken portion. In dramatic contrast to the stark tones and rough textures is a warm, autumnal-hued 20-foot-long marble counter rife with elegant veining.
Initially, Ivy Studio wasn’t convinced by the marble sample. “It felt like something from an old kitchen,” Staszewski admits, before discovering its striking impact in a contemporary setting.
There are other bold splashes, too, such as the sinuous metallic purple velvet banquette, smattering of pink and orange ottomans, and lilac-tinted stools. Even the few cloistered offices and call and meeting rooms, defined by envelopes of pink fiberglass insulation, shun plaster for clear polycarbonate sheets that showcase their soundproofing capabilities.
Staszewski deems the space a “work in progress” that mirrors M.A.D. Collectif’s constant evolution as a brand. The interior, imagined as an elevated riff on a construction site, is yet another “fresh push.”
Images by Alex Lesage
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