Interior-designer & restaurateur extraordinaire Craig Stanghetta is a man of many accomplishments. Chances are high that if you’re from Vancouver, you’ve stepped foot in a place that Craig has had the lead in designing or creating.
We had the chance to sit down with him at his Ste. Marie Studio located in Vancouver’s Chinatown to ask a series of questions.
Read more below!
How did you first get involved in the design and restaurant industries? Was this always the line of work you had intended to dive into?
Well, it’s kind of a long story. I come by the restaurant stuff honestly because grandfather owned the oldest hotel in my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. So we would grow up in the hotel and as we got older we had little odd jobs there, and my family in Italy was in the food business. My hometown is a very food centric town, with a lot of Italian immigrants, so we were always surrounded by food in a very hospitable environment. When I was in high school, my part time job was as a cook. When I went to university, I studied theater and my part time job was front of house as a waiter.
After being in theater for a while, I saw that there was always something missing in the world of restaurants, there was a bit of a story missing. I always felt like there was a potential way to bridge that gap. So, that’s weirdly how I got into the world of design, I started to design for restaurants first. I always look at a restaurant as a potential narrative that people could embody and participate in. That was my whole perspective, and then we grew a business around those kinds of values, and brought it to bigger and more engaged spaces, hotels, large buildings, offices, plus tons more restaurants. Somewhere along the way, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and partner on a few restaurants. That’s the long version.
Are there any projects you’ve worked on that stand out for you in particular? Name a few of your favourites.
Obviously the ones that we own are very close to my heart, like Savio Volpe. Then we took over an old restaurant called Nick’s Spaghetti House (now Pepino’s) that had been around for about 62 years, and it reminded me of the restaurants in my hometown, like red sauce Italian spaces. So that one’s really close to me, we used to go to Nick’s for my daughter when she was just a baby. She wanted to go there and eat this crazy tall cheesecake. So when the building was for sale, we were pretty adamant on grabbing it. We left it as close to the original because it had this innate character. Those are the spaces that I love the most, ones that have a bit of spirit in the walls so to speak.
One of our brand pillars at Casca is the Daily Pursuit of Wellness. What does the Daily Pursuit of Wellness mean to you?
If you would have asked me this question maybe four years ago, I would have said that’s something I don’t think about, I’m focused on my studio and my restaurant projects and busy with my family. But in the last four or so years, I’ve started to be really preoccupied with health and wellness. I’m not wearing it now, but I typically wear a Whoop that tracks my heart rate, oxygen, skin temperature, sleep, I’m serious about sleep. I try to have a strict sleep routine, sleep in a dark, cold room, and go to the bed at the same time. I really value it, especially when you delve a little bit into the research behind sleep. I like to lift weights, walk as much as possible, and try not to take things too seriously. I try and work really hard in a window when I’m working and feel motivated, and then completely turn off evenings and weekends. These days I have no problem fully shutting it off.
We know you’re a busy guy. What does your wellness routine look like? How do you prepare for a busy day, or wind down after work?
I try to make sure I’m pretty well rested. I get up and the first thing I do is get outside and go for a short walk that usually involves getting some caffeine. I like to spend time with my family, I drive my daughter to school every day. Weirdly, that sets me up for a good day because I’m pretty focused on talking to her and hearing all the school gossip and high jinx that usually happens. If I’m traveling I try to do the same thing. Get up, get outside, try and do some more formal things fitness wise.
Then wind down is much the same. I try to read, listen to some podcasts, and cooking. I think cooking is a really good one because you’re pretty preoccupied, you have to focus just enough. But at the same time it’s not super intense, it’s a nice way to relax. I like to do that with my family and friends, food’s pretty important to me.
Is it possible for good design to support health and well-being?
We’re huge believers in how the environment impacts people. It’s almost like one of those things when you really think about it you could be like, okay, if I’m in an environment where I feel warm and comfortable, of course you’re able to focus on things that aren’t just the mechanics of life. So, I think that certainly some of those fundamentals like access to light, clean and fresh air, really intuitive spaces that you feel like are part of your human rhythm can certainly go a long way.
There’s so much that design can do in the wellness space. You’ll see in the next 3-4 years there’s going to be a real moment. Well designed spaces that help promote health and well-being, where people can gather, they can socialize, it’s not really about partying… it’s more about connecting. Using some aspects of health to be the lubricant for that like saunas, cold plunge, steams, and there will be a whole bunch of other versions. I think what we’ll start to see is ways that work & home, and health & wellness start to be much more synergized. We’re very passionate about that notion and we’re working on a lot of things that embody that.
Any exciting projects coming up in the near future that you’re allowed to tell us about?
There’s a few projects that come to mind that I’m really excited about. We’re working on a large, luxury style rental project in Los Angeles that’s located at the old LA Times building. That one’s really interesting because we’ve done a lot of work on helping to envision and program what happens in the entire building. It has more of this focus on this sort of resort style living that if you’re renting, you’re plugging into this sense of community. Again, the idea of health and wellness will be embedded there, a lot of outdoor living happens there (obviously the climate is a bit more favorable down there). The fact that it’s a very strong pedigree property that has a very fascinating history and helps unlock this part of the city that might have been a little bit dormant for a while is really something we’re super excited about.
We’re also doing a really nice little boutique restaurant located in Toronto that’s part of the Mirvish Village Project there. It’s a sister project to Ask For Luigi, which is a project we did here in Vancouver. But, it’s a little bit of an evolution of that. It’s this cool mid-century modernist Italian angle which is something from a design standpoint, our studio is really into.
Craig wearing the Men's Vata in Navy/White
Lastly, what’s your favourite Casca model from our range?
My favourite shoe is this one that I’m wearing, the Vata. Something that’s really cool about this shoe is that it’s machine washable, which is rad because I’m pretty hard on footwear. It’s also breathable and super comfy. I think the thing I like the most is that it goes with everything. I’m wearing it with my nifty sport jacket today, but at home it can be paired with more leisurewear as well. I love it!