We recently released our first limited edition shoe, Utility One. As the name suggests, the new style was designed with modern utilitarians in mind; creatives who value versatility, style, and craftsmanship.
We’ve connected with local makers to chat about the ins and outs of their work. First up is designer & restaurateur, Craig Stanghetta. He’s the Principal/Creative Director of Ste. Marie Design, and the co-owner of Vancouver’s staple Italian spots; Savio Volpe, Pepino’s, and Caffe La Tana.
In some capacity, you could say that Craig has come full circle. He was born and raised in Southern Ontario’s Sault Ste. Marie, which became his business’ namesake. The road to becoming an interior designer & restaurant owner wasn’t a straight path, but his love and interest in both these things has been ever-present. Craig was raised in the hospitality industry. His family owned one of the oldest hotels in his hometown, and him and his brothers worked at the restaurant across from his family home. His extended family in Italy even owned a pizza shop. In his adolescence, Craig moved to Toronto to go to York University’s theatre school. While there, he worked in restaurants and started getting into furniture design as a side project and “serious hobby.” Like a lot of creatives, he didn’t know he could turn this passion into a career.
As time went on, his love for restaurants and design grew, and his theatre background even played a part in his aspirations; he wanted to help other people tell a story and create a world through space and design. His business began years ago when he moved to Vancouver and started convincing friends to let him design their spaces and restaurants. What started as a one man show grew into a 20 person team and a lengthy list of renowned clients like Fairmont, Marriott, and Herschel as well as many of Vancouver’s independent “It spots”.
Craig & his team’s design style is recognizable and astute, yet their ability to convey different personalities from project to project is impressive. Craig explains that whenever they take on a new client, the first step entails a deep-dive into what makes that business tick. What they’re looking for is a window into their world, as well as what their customer needs and what their journey through the space should feel like. He says that the cornerstone to their work can be summed up in a lyric he’s always been inspired by: “Feet on the ground, head in the sky.” He’s aiming to span both these areas of the design world.
Any type of maker has the ability to affect his or her surroundings. We asked Craig how he thinks his work and creations can impact society as a whole. He explained that the goal of their work is to help people who have something to say unlock their story, and to give independent businesses a platform to be who they are and to be successful. He says, “the biggest impact [our work] has is on neighbourhoods and where people gather and how people mark moments in their life or work”. With any intentional and well-thought out design, function and aesthetics should be balanced. Moreover, he explains: “we know that we need to make the business work. We don’t allow our design work to supersede those needs, but we aim to enhance those needs.” Ste. Marie Designs is disciplined about this as they aim to create spaces that are a reflection of the business, the owners, and the people who will be visiting.
Regarding work-life balance, we asked Craig how he winds down after a long day of work. He laughs and says that with a puppy and young daughter, it’s not so much about winding down, but more so about a change of tempo. In his free time, he enjoys boating, listening to records, and admits that he could eat fresh pasta from his restaurants any day of the week.
Craig is an impeccable example of somebody who uses design as a vessel for bigger things. He aims to help launch businesses that are far more than just transactional, and he creates intentional spaces that lend themselves to versatility, which is something we value deeply at Casca. In wrapping up, we asked him how he knows when a project is complete, something a lot of creatives can struggle with. He joked: “When it’s open.”