Alessandro Munge, founder and design director of Studio Munge, has inspired countless condominium and hospitality projects across the globe, evolving physical environments into memorable experiences for over 20 years. Here, he shares thoughts on creating livable spaces, timeless interiors, and trends in luxury condo design.
What are some elements of highly livable spaces?
Highly livable spaces are relevant and fit for purpose. In the context of global urban densification, condominiums offer an opportunity for many to afford a piece of real estate in prime downtown locations and is also an incredible opportunity to foster a sense of community. I love the word “condominium” because there is a notion of joined venture and community imbued in the word’s etymology instead of “apartments,” representing spatial division.
A well-developed multi-residential project doesn’t behave as boxes stacked in the sky; rather, it acts as an interconnected hive buzzing with life and positive energy. Before specifying a tile or the paint colour on a wall, a designer must first ask the hard questions. Gifted with the power of visualization, we must understand how people live today and project how they might live tomorrow.
Our responsibility is to lift communities by exploring the uncomfortable unknown, especially in the condo development sector. Only by taking chances in creating innovative design solutions can we genuinely contribute our expertise to society.
How can a condo achieve timeless décor?
Every decade sees its share of trends coming and going like champagne bubbles popping at the surface. Timelessness is achieved by creating meaningful and purposeful spaces—dynamic environments that evoke emotions and resonate on a much deeper level.
At Natasha The Residences, inspired by PR maverick Natasha Koifman, we immersed ourselves in our muse’s active lifestyle rather than applying design trends. We imagined all amenities as uber social spaces, as complete home extensions, all curated with inspiring art and bespoke furnishings. Using a predominantly monochromatic palette, we created a world where black completes white like a leather jacket thrown over a little black dress.
Catering to the modern urbanite, we curated the building with relevant and practical amenities, from a multimedia content production studio to a shared workspace. At the same time, there are lots of areas to relax and congregate in such landscaped garden terraces, a circular fire pit, an open kitchen with an integrated pizza oven and even a fashionable laundry mat to mingle in. Although timeless in the design execution, all those spaces bring much more to the building— a comfortable sense of home and a wonderful sense of community.
What does luxury design mean in 2021?
I always associate luxury with cravings and a desire for the extraordinary. It is whatever you want more of but can’t always access. Whichever way luxury is expressed, it is always personal to an individual. I always look deep into the personal lives of our clientele to understand what that word means to them, and ask myself how we can infuse this ephemeral concept into every detail—from immersive architectural volumes to experiential space planning all the way down to custom designed furniture pieces.
Our version of luxury isn’t opulence or a stamped and loud display of wealth in a traditional, passé and cliché combination of polished metals, crystal, and marble. We invite sophisticated details, understated quiet luxury expressed in the authenticity and quality of the materials alongside a true appreciation for craftsmanship and art.
At No 7 Dale in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood, luxury is the uncompromised dedication to excellence, starting with the remarkable architecture by Siamak Hariri. It’s about creating not just structures, but homes, cultural landmarks, and valuable legacy investments for generations to come.
Exquisite yet intimate volumes emanate a great sense of privacy. The material palette evokes warmth and authenticity, featuring natural stone, dark walnut wood, and bronze accents. The 26 private homes are also developed using two distinct schemes to fit the buyer’s personal sensibilities, whether contemporary or transitional. No 7 Dale celebrates understated luxury and quality in all forms—from the macro space planning all the way to the artful engineering of all cabinetry.
What elements should condo corporations invest in?
When it comes to condos as assets, I always tell developers and corporations to invest in the right team, invest in expertise and people that genuinely care. Wallpaper and corridor carpets can be updated, but the space planning and volumes’ quality are much harder to correct.
Alessandro Munge is the founder and design director of Studio Munge. Studio Munge brings to life luxury residential and hospitality projects in partnership with world-renowned architects, visionary global developers, and top-tier hotel operators from Beverly Hills to Hong Kong.
Feature photo: Glen Hill Condominiums by Lanterra Developments