Vitae Spirits Distillery Renovation

Project Description

Adaptively reusing an old schoolhouse, Vitae Spirits Distillery and Tasting Room embraces its educational roots by transforming the 2-story brick building into a lesson in science. Above all, Vitae’s Spirit’s Tasting Room showcases its craft: a glass wall separates the tasting room from the production zone. A close-up view of the custom-made copper still allows patrons a didactic view into the delicate process of transforming raw botanical ingredients into small batch artisanal distilled spirits. Large, graphic wall murals of enlarged plant sections detail the organic nature of the distilling process and the company’s chemistry inspired logo. 

Situated at the edge of an industrial zone meeting a residential area, the interior architecture suggests a warm, modern variation on its industrial aesthetic.  Planes of pickled oak hover overhead to define the tasting room and lounge. A concrete and steel bar with a string copper and black pendants hosts the practice of mixology while echoing the materials of the production space.  Vitae’s Distillery and Tasting Room offers a modern setting for an age-old technique to learn, be inspired, and taste.

Vitae principal and founder of is a former professor of microbiology and required that the space maintain a level of precision aesthetic cleanliness akin to a lab setting, while providing a tasting room that was welcoming and warm. The design team responded to this desire by specifying a restrained pallet of “real” materials (wood, steel, and concrete) that were cleanable and modern yet had visual interest and a natural depth.

The client hoped to highlight the process of distilling while creating a comfortable space for patrons to relax and enjoy their products. The designers created intimate spaces within the larger industrial building by dropping pickled wood ceilings that define the bar and lounge area. At the bar, the wood ceiling wraps down the wall to create a display area for their carefully packaged spirits. The wood wrapper also houses cove lighting and display lighting to create atmosphere and warmth at the bar area. The focal point of the tasting room is the copper still emphasizing the fact that the small batch production process is at the center of the Vitae brand.