A slice of nostalgia: Atelier Zébulon Perron delivers a ‘modern retro’ interpretation

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Project Details:

Type: Hospitality| Interiors

Architect: Atelier Zébulon Perron

Location: Canada

Address: 4134 Ste-Catherine St West, Montreal

Program: Restaurant

Year: September 2020

Area: 280 sq.m.

Photographer: Jean-Sébastien Senécal

Atelier Zébulon Perron, a firm renowned for its distinct interior design services for the commercial sector, is proud to unveil the nostalgic ambiance of Gentile Pizza Parlour. Inspired by family legacy, the new Montreal restaurant’s original concept pays homage to the classic pizzerias of 70s and 80s New York City, balancing retro and contemporary elements to create a chic and colloquial space, with a strong identity.

Gentile Pizza Parlour
Photograph © Jean-Sébastien Senécal

After a successful collaboration with owner, Anthony Gentile, to design his first restaurant in 2016, Atelier Zébulon Perron was selected to design the new adjacent pizzeria. The firm embarked on a concept of nostalgia within an iconic and contemporary space that is inspired by family history, with tributes to the flagship Café Gentile, first opened in 1959, as well as to a family arcade where the current owner spent much of his youth.

Many of the settings and design elements that Anthony referenced reflected a memorable past,” says Zébulon Perron. “We wanted to honor aspects of those cherished memories as much as possible, without being too cliché.”

Gentile Pizza Parlour
Photograph © Jean-Sébastien Senécal
Gentile Pizza Parlour
Photograph © Jean-Sébastien Senécal

The studio’s designers focused on a contemporary interpretation of throwback references in order to create a dynamic space that is both rooted in time, and which embraces the future, reflecting the ambitions and passions of a new generation of Montreal family restaurateurs. The unique character of the original space offered some naturally vintage qualities that the designers embraced, including an existing ceiling of rhythmic metal slats, designed for signage purposes, that the firm restored to its 1980s architectural grandeur. Some of the old sign devices were maintained for their diffusion of rosy, subdued mood lighting. The design team also overcame a series of technical challenges to update the concept, applying a metallic champagne paint finish and installing backlit screens to emit a soft pink glow.

Gentile Pizza Parlour
Photograph © Jean-Sébastien Senécal

To break down the existing space’s natural linearity, the team developed a continuous diagonal tile pattern that covers the floors, the walls, and the bar. The effect of the strong and deliberate gesture is one of the most striking aspects of the final design. A juxtaposition of old and new materials characterizes the restaurant’s light and playful furnishings and finishes, including a mix of marble and vinyl tabletops, layered, prefinished wood panelled walls with backlit mirrors, amber glass dividers, and old-fashioned vertical blinds. Vintage objects, including light fixtures, chairs, stools, and even an old Pac Man machine, were acquired through personal collections and classified ads, infusing the space with a strong visual impact of familiarity, originality, and warmth.

“People are comforted by the familiarity of places that they recognize in visual and emotional ways,” explains Zébulon Perron. “I think that we have succeeded in designing a welcoming environment that is equal parts architectural, unique, dynamic, and nostalgic.

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Construction: Planit Construction
Design: Atelier Zébulon Perron
Lead designer: Zébulon Perron
Team: Valérie Picard, Anik Mandalian, Mathieu Belen, Samuel Casaubon, Audrey Dasilva, Justine Rahilly, Tony Lemoignan


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