Inside Shaftesbury Films’ new space, with an indoor park, shipping container offices and plenty of props

By Jean Grant| David Lee, Courtesy of Shaftesbury Smokebomb Shift2

What: Production company Shaftesbury’s Toronto office. It also houses the brand’s digital and tech division Smokebomb and branded entertainment agency Shift2. Where: A former warehouse at Logan and Lake Shore. How big: Approximately 10,000 square feet for 30 people.

After 15 years in an increasingly cramped office at Queen and Jarvis, Shaftesbury (they make Murdoch Mysteries) recently moved to a century-old Leslieville warehouse. During three months of renos, the team replaced the ancient windows, painted the walls and installed all sorts of complex wiring systems necessary for their work. The new space still resembles a storage facility from the outside, but inside it’s a giant light-filled room with soaring ceilings and a legitimate park with 10 full-sized ficus trees. Before, the growing company had to be divided into two separate offices, but now there’s enough space for the brand’s four divisions—film, TV, digital and branded entertainment—to work together. Plus, they no longer have to rent out space when a project is in production, as colourful storage containers function as offices for visiting writers, directors and editors.

The space was designed by CEO Christina Jennings’ longtime friend and collaborator Sandy Kybartas, an architect and production designer. Her goal was to create a positive energy conducive for creative thinking and brainstorming. Since there’s so much natural light, Ikea umbrellas help shade computers from the glare:



Jennnings was immediately attracted to the vaulted skylights and 26-foot ceilings in the centre. “Even on a dark day, you don’t need any lights,” she says. It was Kybartas’ idea to create an indoor park, and she added 10 ficus trees and a ton of ferns:



The courtyard-like space is super-versatile, and in addition to being a nice place to eat lunch, has been used for movie screenings and even live-music performances:




The offices and meeting rooms are all colourful shipping containers, which were sanded down and outfitted with flat screens. Apparently they’re surprisingly soundproof:



The kitchen was also constructed from a shipping container. Every Friday at 4 p.m. the team gathers for taste-testing competitions:



Giant props from Murdoch Mysteries serve as decorative sculptures:



There aren’t enough walls in the open-concept space to showcase their art collection, so they decided to rotate the works on display. This one’s a digital print by Toronto artist Alex McLeod:



Jennings scored this massive boardroom table from CIBC. They had to chop off 10 feet of it:



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