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Ravi Handa designs his own wine bar called Stem in Montreal


Reclaimed materials found during demolition work have been preserved and used as decoration in this Montreal wine bar called Stem that’s designed and co-owned by Ravi Handa Architect.

Named Stem, the wine bar was completed earlier in 2020 near September, a cafe and surfboard workshop designed by the same architect in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood.

Wine bar in Montreal covered by wooden slats
A piece of vintage wallpaper now hangs by the bar’s entrance

Upon learning that a vacant space near September cafe would be taken up by a big-box pizza chain, the architect teamed up with some partners to lease the space themselves.

“There was an uproar in the community and we [September] along with other local businesses on the block didn’t want a multinational chain as a neighbour,” Handa told Dezeen.

“There was a great deal of pressure to create something soulful and anchored to place since we had convinced our landlords to break with a brand that we felt was perhaps void of soul and rather generic,” he added.

Wine bar in Montreal with wood slat screen
Materials found on-site during demolition have been turned into artworks

Handa envisioned an establishment that would draw cues from the cafe, offering a casual place for neighbours to gather in a nighttime setting.

“As a partner, and because the business is physically linked to an already successful business, I was more emotionally invested in the design process than usual,” he said.

“While the spirit of the cafe is reflected in the wine bar’s fine lines and warm palette, the new space has an identity of its own, using the stem as a source of inspiration.”

Slim slats of wood, intended to represent wine glass stems, are a recurring motif in the interiors.

Wine bar in Montreal with a slatted privacy screen
A privacy screen separates the tasting room from the back-of-house

During the demolition of the existing space, several finishes and pieces of various materials were found and repurposed as artworks for the finished space.

“Scraps of wood and metal were collected in collaboration with artist and friend Jeremy Le Chatelier, who incorporated them into works of art,” the architect said.

The long, narrow space features some walls painted in a dark green colour that was chosen based on a piece of vintage, hand-painted wallpaper that was found on site.

Elsewhere, the existing brick demising walls are exposed in a nod to the area’s industrial past.

Bar seating in Montreal wine bar Stem
Thin strips of wood that line the space are meant to look like the stem of a wine glass

Thin wooden slats cover the bar itself, a motif that is also found in a privacy screen that separates the back-of-house spaces from the tasting room.

“[The screen] conceals the washroom and dishwashing area, without alienating workers from the lively energy in the bar,” said architect.

Bathroom with mint green tiles and exposed concrete
New finishes contrast the existing walls in the bathroom

In the restroom, a concrete wall was left in its original condition, contrasting the new tiles and fixtures that were installed during the renovation.

In an effort to support local brands and designers, the architect sourced furniture and lighting from within the city’s tight-knit design community. The lights are by a Luminaire Authentik and the furniture was designed by Atelier Appareil, the furniture arm of Appareil Architecture.

Other projects in Montreal include a newly opened coworking space by Ivy Studio and a retro coffee bar downtown by Ménard Dworkind.

The photography is by Olivier Blouin.


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