The Creative Archive: Montreal Edition – Concept to Reality
Montreal holds a special place in my heart. The love of food, pleasure first attitude, and pedestrian friendly scale make it an inviting and easy place to be. Whether popping in for a weekend or an extended WFH stay, there is no shortage of creativity to experience. In honour of that, this will be the first of many Montreal Editions”, because there is always something to share about this slice of paradise.
For this edition I am focusing on a trio of concept spaces, tailored to meet the creative needs of the Montrealer and beyond. I reflect on a day spent tinkling the “ivories” (computer keyboard) at Crew Collective & Cafe, perusing the latest wares and creative concepts at Estudio Niksen, and reveling in the latest exhibition at Le Livart.
If you, like I, must work for a living, there is no place more opulent to carry out said work then Crew Collective & Cafe. Built into a heritage designated former bank building in Vieux Montreal, this architectural gem is rife with gilded edges and soaring sight lines. Make sure to look down as well, because the tile and grating work is sublime. As far as a co-working space, they have tailored options based on need, including several free spots available in the cafe area and dedicated (read: bookable) desks and meeting rooms. My advice would be to arrive early if hoping to catch a free space and to look beyond just co-working at this space. It is well appointed for photo and video projects. As an experience, this architectural re-use is inspiring. While the business model is not a new concept the realization of a sophisticated and approachable space has attracted a vibrant energy that’s palpable.
In my free time, I popped over to Estudio Niksen to chat with friends Gaby & Andres about their growing creative business. Estudio Niksen is a truly multi-hyphenate studio, presenting under the radar labels and creators in their downtown space. Their fashion offering is a mixture of unique, oversized silhouettes, and quality craftsmanship at a mid-range price point. Their home wares and art pieces designed in house and in collaboration with local creatives. The ethos behind the brand is deeply personal, capturing the journey of creation and inviting customers into their universe. A playful, fun and functional space, the studio plays home to retail, warehouse, photo studio and workspace. Customers are welcomed by scent, sound and sight. A truly enveloping vibe.
Last stop on this creative crawl is Le Livart – a “non-profit organization focused on democratizing access to art and culture.” The space comprises a gallery, artist studios, a school, event space and a shop, all tucked into a former presbytery. This hub plays an important role in supporting the artists of Montreal and beyond. On this particular journey I was lucky enough to witness the work of Studio Botte – a local industrial design studio creating up cycled works. The show a fantastic display of the possible.
A visit to Montreal wouldn’t be complete without taste testing your way through. My favourite spots of the moment:
Bar Bara – for pasta and people watching
Vin Vin Vin – for you guessed it, wine. Though the food offering is nothing to scoff at.
Boulangerie Guillaume – for la petit champignon. Get 6 and don’t look back.
Whether picking up snacks for a rendezvous a la Parc Fontaine or a client dinner, the above recommendations are sure to sort you out.
Now go off and be free in la belle province. Traverse the city by bixi, or hop on the metro to reach your destination. There is sure to be a burst of creativity just around that next corner.
Amy Peebles is a curator & producer residing in Hamilton, ON.
Urban planner by education, treasure hunter by choice, and always energized by the act of discovery. Amy is the founder of creative studio Regional Archive and considers herself a child of the world.