BishaRebecca Lo • Photography by Maxime Bocken and Brandon Barré • February 5, 2018
After the famed Second City moved to a new location, the sketch comedy club’s former home—a mid-19th-century warehouse—was up for grabs. INK Entertainment CEO Charles Khabouth snapped it up, converting the heritage building into his crowning achievement, Bisha—a name that nods to his childhood nickname.
The Toronto nightlife and restaurant impresario partnered with local firms Lifetime Developments and Wallman Architects to transform the low-rise building into a 44-story, 96-key hotel topped with 355 residences and seven rental units. For the interiors, he turned to longtime collaborator Alessandro Munge, principal of Studio Munge (the two have worked on more than 20 projects in 10 years), who handled the residences, multiple F&B venues, public spaces, and guestrooms—except for a floor of suites by Lenny Kravitz (his 2,000-square-foot presidential suite is slated to debut in the spring). “It encompasses all of his experiences with and passion for restaurants, bars, and lounges,” explains Munge. “With a residential feel, he wanted [Bisha] to display his love for art and collected worldly pieces under one roof.”
Considering their past creations (including the recently opened Rebel nightclub), it’s not surprising the interiors are at once moody and sophisticated, swathed in a palette of black and white with jewel tone accents. While guestrooms are meant to entertain with stylized photography and graphic carpet, “the lobby sets the tone—it’s a bold and welcoming sensory space,” notes Munge.
“Featuring high-contrast black and white marble floors in a custom cut arabesque pattern, black lacquered moldings, framed crushed velvet paneling, and a custom scent, all senses are immediately engaged.” A series of handblown abstract glass birds by Jeff Goodman Studio crowns the striking space, while delicate laser-etched floral patterns envelop the brass-clad reception desk. To one side is Mister C. Bar Room, a sultry lounge with a circular marble-encased fireplace that anchors the space. Sleek marble, leather, and velvet play off each other for a layered experience, Munge explains, while lighting “wraps the space in a warm, shimmering glow.”
Art adds another dramatic layer thanks to Munge’s wife Grace Zeppilli of GZ International, who curated the property’s 2,000 artworks, incorporating pieces from Damien Hirst as well as a few tongue-in-cheek references to fashion, art, and pop culture throughout. Pieces by Jeff Koons are from Khabouth’s private collection, including the wall sconces in the elevator lobby.
For those who want to grab and go, 24/7 café French Made features globe pendants and white walls lined with black and blue accents, and Japanese signature restaurant Akira Back boasts a private gold leaf entry staircase. Standing in stark contrast is Kōst, an indoor-outdoor all-day dining rooftop experience. With seafoam green, peach, and ivory marble; washed oak wood panels; and rattan chairs, the 44th-floor perch is “both an escape and an escapade,” Munge notes, “a soulful rooftop modern beach house concept with spectacular 360-degree views of Lake Ontario, the CN Tower, and Toronto.”