Over the DVP bridge, tucked at the top of a tiny street called Carroll, and just shy of Queen and Broadview, sits the colossal warehouse building that stands alone, amongst rows of new-build town homes, and a small parkette. The vast structure sticks out like an old home at the top of a hill in a Tim Burton movie, you know, the one kept separate from the cookie-cutter structures that surround it below. That’s not to say it’s creepy, because it is beautiful, and home to one of Toronto’s newest and coolest shared work spaces. To give you an idea, if you took the level of taste from the Soho House (along with a dash of its social aspect) and combined it with the look of most typical shared work spaces (think modern but cold and sparse), you would get the East Room Toronto and it’s dreamy environment for any creative workaholic.
So who is the brilliant team behind the city’s most stunning shared space? Well, it’s Samuel Martin, 26, Derreck Martin, 27, Flavia Zhamo, 24, Olivia Seally, 25, Alyana Ladha, 21, and Carlo Panuncialman, 22, who come together every day, to make the East Room what it is. As part of my Toronto-focused series of features for San Pellegrino‘s Itineraries of Taste, I caught up with them to find out more about their innovative new business.
group shot by Anthony Tuccitto
Gracie Carroll: How and why did you come up with the concept of the East Room?
East Room: Samuel and Derreck Martin (who are brothers) started East Room. In Toronto, there aren’t a lot of boutique businesses, specifically boutique social environments. The ones that do exist cater more to the tech community. Toronto is a huge city with a lot of culture, but there are a lot of things that haven’t been done the way we see them in Los Angeles and New York, for example.
Samuel and Derreck were in a position where a number of things aligned, making them realize that they had the capability to build out the space the way they wanted to. Initially they were interested in aesthetic; that’s what they were the most excited about. They realized through a general market study of the city co-ops that they looked at (even though they were great) that the idea hadn’t been fully flushed out the way it should be. So a little over a year ago, they were looking into different ideas into what the space could be; possibly a hotel, a club, there were a lot of ideas but in terms of something that had longevity and a positive impact on the city, the co-working space gave the opportunity to package that all into one.
GC: What do you think is special about the location and the neighbourhood?
ER: The east end is going through a huge renewal. It’s booming with culture, talent and a ton of development. It’s far enough and just close enough to the city that we can be in touch with both vibes all at once.
GC: How has your business grown over the past 2 years?
ER: The beginning was a bit rough, with only two members in the space. As time passed and more bodies came through the space, people fell in love with the environment and now we’re capped and working on a second floor! We have become so much more than just an office space, with plenty of new projects underway.
GC: How are you expanding, and how do you plan to continue to expand?
ER: We’ve got some really great events coming up with our Room Service programme. The first floor renovations are coming along quicker than expected, so we’re extremely excited for the fall. In collaboration with Ian McGrenaghan and Colin Tooke from Grand Electric, we’ve got a restaurant coming to the west side of East Room. Aside from that, mostly just getting some more programming going for our members. Oh! And we’re focussing on building out an independent cinema that will showcase local and international films…stay tuned for that one.
GC: Who are the East Room members? What types of people do you attract?
ER: Our co-working club caters to forward-thinking freelancers, creative professionals and small businesses. Our dynamic community of members includes some of the city’s most creative minds working in the fields of technology, art and design. East Room Toronto provides the ideal environment for these like-minded individuals to collaborate, share ideas and merge their talents.
GC: The decor is one of the best features about the space; what’s the story behind the design and the pieces you’ve chosen to fill it with?
ER: The interior design has all been directed by brothers Derreck and Samuel. The pieces are all from 507 Antiques. Each piece is actually also available for purchase. New things are swapped in and out as we go!
GC: What are some of your favourite local businesses in the Riverside area?
GC: What has been your favourite ‘East Room moment’ so far?
ER: Guillermo Del Toro filming for Vice.
GC: What has been the most memorable ‘East Room moment’?
ER: You can’t ask us to narrow things down like this! Our team is so versatile; we’re always up to something.
GC: If you could describe the East Room in one word, what would it be?
GC: Any other plans we should know about that you can share?
ER: We have plans to expand so the entire building is East Room and not just the second floor. This will allow our community to grow and will enable more aforementioned collaborations and creativity amongst our members. We are also expanding quite swiftly!
So we want to turn East Room into more of a permanent fixture… in addition to our music events, we’re looking at doing a fine art residency program. We have a restaurant in the works and we’re undergoing a massive redevelopment of the first floor of the building right now. it will be about 20,000 sq. ft. and a large 3,500 sq. ft. lounge space that will double up as an event space. This event space has been used a couple of times this summer, pre-final product. So there’s a lot of expansion down the pipeline.
For more information on East Room Toronto, please visit: eastroom.ca
For more articles from the Itineraries of Taste partnership, please click HERE!