What happens when you combine rapper Drake’s sultry swagger with the high style typical of celebrated chef and
Chopped Canada judge Susur Lee’s restaurants? You get Fring’s, arguably the most anticipated resto to hit Toronto’s food scene. Owned by the two celebrities and designed by Susur Lee’s wife Brenda Bent and her partner Karen Gable, Fring’s interior is lush and lounge-like with rich jewel-tones, luxurious textiles (think: mohair and velvet) and ultra-cool vintage flair.
We sat down with the ladies of
Bent Gable Design Inc. to get the details on the eclectic space. Click through for a never-before-seen look at the interior.
Brenda and Karen worked with Brenda and Susur’s eldest sons, Kai and Levi, and Drake’s partner Angelo to design the space. “They’re young and they have a different aesthetic. If it were up to us, there would be a few more pictures,” laughs Brenda, referring to the empty brick walls that surround Fring’s lounge space.
Red fringe pendants glow like rubies atop teal-toned banquet tables in the lounge area. Inspired by a similar pendant light in Karen’s home, the designers crafted the restaurant versions themselves. “We were clothing designers first, so fabrics, textures and colors have been a part of everything we do,” says Karen.
Distressed leather covers the round banquet booths. “It’s cow leather from Brazil. We chose it because it was a nice color and it’s sort of neutral. You can mix anything with it,” says Brenda.
Ponyskin blankets the lower bar and some of the custom bar stool cushions, pulling out the rust color in the teal granite countertop. “I love color, but people rarely take the risk of using something that’s just a beautiful color in their house,” says Karen.
Glistening clear hangers replace typical crystals in the large-scale chandeliers that float over the bar. “The hangers are zip-tied together. People love them! They look really pretty at night,” says Brenda.
Vintage doors painted in a custom color divide the restaurant and section off the DJ booth. “The trick is to find a great paint mixer. We use Para Paints on Adelaide St. [in Toronto]. We take them the smallest scrap of color, be it fabric or paper, and they can create it in paint,” says Brenda.
Sepia-toned overlapping mirrors add a subtle optical illusion, as if you’re looking at the reflecting wall through a kaleidoscope. “We like something that has a sense of distortion, where you really have to look at it to see it,” says Karen.
The wingback mohair chairs are another DIY made by the designers. “We knew we wanted wingback chairs, but these ones weren’t that lovely on their own, so we doctored them up. I think it’s a conversation piece,” says Karen.
Indigo velvet benches create a luxurious seating option and an additional layer of texture. “Both of us love fur and velvet,” says Brenda.
The seats opposite the velvet benches are vintage school chairs from the ‘40s, reupholstered in ponyskin and painted a custom sea blue.
Vintage doors open up to a private dining area from Fring’s main hub. Lucite blocks sit atop weathered metal frames to create an interesting tabletop. Lucite is a common motif in Brenda’s designs, seen also at Lee and Luckee, two of her husband’s other restaurants that she designed.
A striking marble fireplace is the space’s showpiece. The designers had the marble cut to create a symmetrical pattern. “It’s a pretty spectacular thing to use if you have the space and the height,” says Brenda.
Authentic vintage panelling covers the opposite wall. “We bought all this old panelling from
The Door Store. The bottom part is old drywall, but the top part is real,” says Karen.
Orchids are the designers’ blooms of choice. “It’s a functional flower, and they’re graphic and simple,” says Karen.
Though the sultry interior feels quintessentially Drake, the rapper leaves his biggest mark in the basement with a custom sign that features his signature “6” motif. It’s already become an
Instagram magnet for those in The 6ix (Drake’s nickname for Toronto).
Author: Adena Leigh
Courtesy of Birdhouse Media; Headshot, Courtesy of Susur Lee via