Wining, dining and splashing around with the interior-designer-turned-restaurateur.
You might not know Craig Stanghetta’s name, but you have almost definitely stood inside one of his rooms. From Bao Bei to Kissa Tanto to Savio Volpe, the former-actor-turned-interior-designer-turned-restaurant-co-owner is redefining the dining scene with his sumptuous spaces. Building the right team to tackle such a plethora of projects has taken years, but Stanghetta finally feels the group he’s formed at Ste. Marie—his design studio founded in 2013—has hit the sweet spot. “We are at the point now where all our designers, most of whom come from an architectural background, speak the same language,” says Stanghetta. “We recently did a salon in Yaletown called the Glamoury, and I was able to play a lesser role because the designers are so aligned; they knocked it out of the park.” The studio currently focuses mostly on commercial rooms, with residential homes accounting for only about 10 percent of their projects—though that figure isn’t set in stone, says the designer. “It’s mostly about finding that special client who is able to accept our not-particularly-conventional style.” The firm’s desire to make natural Pacific Northwest resources appear “alien” has become the studio’s signature look. “We like to look at ways to play with stone: we take local marble or jade, then combine it with custom lighting or custom furniture,” says Stanghetta. “Not everybody is into that kind of thing: our work is theatrical.” Stanghetta’s plate may seem full with his stream of ongoing projects—he can’t talk about his current residential clients because of star status, but he will let slip that the fireplace has been coated with gold leaf—but the designer has inexplicably found time to venture into the hospitality industry, too, as co-owner of Savio Volpe.
“I’m pretty autodidactic, so I try to find my way into doing some of these things myself, which is why I did the restaurant,” explains Stanghetta of his part in creating the casual new Italian eatery on Kingsway. “I felt there was a void there, and if no one is hiring us to do what I want to do, I take the opportunity myself.” So what kind of dream home does this design maestro reside in? “It’s definitely an ongoing project,” laughs Stanghetta. “A lot of the artwork is my kid’s; I think most parents are in the same boat.”
24 Hours in Vancouver with Craig Stanghetta
6:30 a.m. I get up pretty early, usually between 6 and 6:30 a.m. If it’s a Saturday, I’ll go to Moja with my daughter Hazel while we let Tristin sleep in a little; Hazel loves the chocolate croissants there. 9:00 a.m. During the week I’ll head to Ste. Marie’s Railtown studio, where we all meet to kick things off. Usually, half that time is spent laughing about whatever happened over the weekend. The group is pretty close, so often at times a post-work drink turns to considering getting on a plane to Vegas at 3 a.m. 10:00 a.m. After that, the team usually breaks off and we’ll either work in the office, have site visits or meet with clients. We are currently completing a house in Kerrisdale, so I’ve been spending a lot of time up there finishing custom work or fine- tuning some accessories. 12:00 p.m. We usually stick pretty close to Rail-town for lunch options. If I want something quick, healthy and coffee-driven, I’ll go to Birds and the Beets; they make good food and are just nice, smart people. When there’s a lunch meeting, we usually cram ourselves into Ask for Luigi for some fresh pasta and maybe a tumbler of wine. 2:00 p.m. My afternoons are taken up by work, going to the gym and various meetings. If I’m in Gastown, I’ll visit one of my partners from the restaurant, Paul Grunberg—he owns L’Abattoir, so is there most days. We’ll sit and have an espresso out front, then maybe head to Neighbour or Roden Gray to check out some clothes. 6:00 p.m. On the best days, I’ll meet my family at Savio Volpe for an early dinner. Sometimes the girls are at Collage Collage, where my daughter takes art classes, so I’ll pick them up there and head to Savio. If it didn’t threaten obesity, I would eat pasta every day. This place is our second home; our daughter will wander off and come back 10 minutes later with gelato from one of the sous-chefs. 8:00 p.m. Our family loves to swim, so a few times a year we make a night-swim pilgrimage, usually out to Spanish Banks. The best is that feeling when you get back in the van afterward and blast the heat. It’s not out of the question to stop for ice cream on the way home. I love Mister, which has just opened in Yaletown—they make their ice cream with nitrogen! 9:00 p.m. Later at night, and if I’m not the one doing story time with our daughter, I will hang out in the backyard. I’m not a Scotch guy—I’ll usually drink a negroni—but recently my oldest and dearest friends bought me an obscenely expensive bottle of (of all things!) Italian Scotch to celebrate the opening of Savio. So I’ll knock back a couple of fingers while I enjoy one of the too-few amazing Vancouver fall nights.