Lavazza VIP Lounge for ICFF unveiled in Toronto’s historic Distillery District

The Lavazza VIP Lounge has been unveiled in Toronto.

Photo courtesy of ICFF

The Italian Contemporary Film Festival (ICFF), held annually at Toronto’s historic Distillery District has opened the Lavazza VIP Lounge. The temporary installation is designed by Chairman Emeritus of NORR Silvio Baldassara.

As an Italian-Canadian Architect, Silvio Baldassara views the ICFF as more than just a film festival. He describes it as “an experience through social events for a month in the centre of the City at the Distillery that allows for inclusion of all people to come together at an indoor and outdoor venue unlike any other.”

In line with this vision, the Lavazza VIP Lounge offers festival-goers a space for relaxation and interaction.

The outdoor screen for the Trinity Cinema, the centerpiece of the festival, required a structural grid of large proportions — 27 feet high and 36 by 27 feet in plan. Cue Cristiano DeFlorentis, artistic director and co-founder of the festival, who conceived the idea of transforming the utilitarian grid into the Lavazza VIP Lounge, using the expansive 36 by 27 feet plan.

Photo courtesy of ICFF

Baldassara faced the challenge of incorporating a temporary tent lounge, previously occupying valuable circulation space on the Trinity plaza, into the grid structure while elevating it eight feet above the ground.

The solution emerged as a 10-foot-high shroud made of corten steel, suspended above the glass lounge, creating a striking visual effect. Additionally, Indiana limestone panels were attached to the grid, anchoring the lounge and stage on a solid stone base that seamlessly blends with the heritage red brick of Trinity plaza.

The selection of corten steel and Indiana limestone as complementary materials pays homage to the red brick and limestone prevalent in the Distillery District’s historic buildings.

Photo courtesy of ICFF

This modern intervention is a temporary addition, designed exclusively for the ICFF and can be dismantled and stored until the festival’s return the following year.

The Lavazza VIP Lounge exemplifies a long-term perspective on sustainability and longevity in architecture.

The intrusive support structure required for the colossal screen also disappears, making way for the elevated VIP Lounge. This transformation not only opens up much-needed circulation space, below but also transforms what was once a potential eyesore into a cherished space within this venue.

Silvio Baldassara expresses his admiration for the unwavering dedication of the entire sponsorship team involved in creating the Lavazza VIP Lounge. He describes it as “a place in time for the month scheduled to return over and over in quality of design and craftsmanship in architecture.”

The structure was realized in collaboration with De Florentis and Nathalie Quercia, special event coordinator for ICFF.