America Restaurant, US

December 2, 2014

A bold installation of bespoke lighting drums provide style and drama for America Restaurant, the new venue at the top of Toronto’s Trump Tower.

When entertainment kingpins Charles Khabouth (INK Entertainment CEO) and restaurateurs Oliver & Bonacini took over the 31st Floor of Toronto’s Trump Tower, their ambitions were clear: to rebrand and reconfigure the existing restaurant, Stock, into a more dynamic, entertainment-driven space.

Although Stock, which opened in 2012, had a stylishly conservative aesthetic, the new owners wanted to create a venue that would deliver a sense of fun while continuing to cater to a more mature audience. The style, explained Michael Bonacini, would be “Gutsy, fun, enjoyable, exciting”. It would, said Khabouth, be designed to attract an “older, more refined and sophisticated clientele.”

The partnership turned to a Toronto-based design firm to produce an interior that would deliver the right tone for the venue’s new life under a new identity: America Restaurant. Bold elements were introduced to give the space a sense of vibrancy; striking, large-scale canvases line the walls and a bespoke installation of lighting pieces run the length of the ceiling. Lighting design and manufacturer VISO was commissioned to create this specialist lighting. From the initial sketches, VISO provided project consultation to ground the conceptual design, before engineering and manufacturing the finished pieces.

The installation comprises nineteen large drum lights of varying diameters, all 10” deep, that hang from the 25-foot ceiling on articulated, matte black metal arms. Set at a 150º angle, these arms allow each drum head to be carefully positioned to achieve the desired look. Each circular drum is covered in black linen fabric with two white chintz fabric diffusers, one on the top and bottom. Hanging at different heights in a staggered arrangement, they seem both chaotic and chic as they strike a stylish pose from above.

An additional oversized drum, 5ft in diameter and 15 inches deep, hangs above the reception desk, providing an open-faced welcome to diners as they arrive.

The restaurant serves from breakfast through to supper each day, transforming into a more relaxed, supper-club style space on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

The custom light fixtures are fitted with LED lamps that deliver both smooth dimming and a range of colour changing options, allowing the operators to subtly manipulate the mood of the space. This was demonstrated to fine effect during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which provided the perfect backdrop to the grand opening of America. Indeed the decision to open during the festival provided perhaps the most impressive element to the installation story: an intense five-day build time. All custom lighting, furniture and art pieces had to be completed on time and in such a way that they would fit inside the Trump Tower cargo elevator – the only access to the 31st floor space.

“Time for construction and testing was tight and the VISO team had to work around the clock to execute on such a short deadline,” recalls VISO CEO and head designer Filipe Lisboa. “The arms had to be strong enough to lift the drum lights in an upward tilt, which was a fun challenge for the team in such a short amount of time. Despite the time constraint, VISO managed to deliver beautiful, functioning and safe lighting installations.”

Within days of opening, stars of the big screen were to be found gracing the new space – a suitably high profile beginning for Toronto’s freshest entertainment experience.