retail desgin

Crafting a contemporary retail design

A Vancouver heritage building is revitalized for Avenue Road
Monday, May 14, 2018

For its first location in Vancouver, high end furniture retailer Avenue Road worked with design firm Abraham Chan Design Office (ACDO) to restore and revitalize a 100-year-old heritage building in the city’s Gastown district. Housed in a two-storey, 12,000 square foot space, the location offers a total concept design experience, from architectural products, kitchens and lighting, to furniture, textiles and accessories.

The transformative design was heavily informed by the city and its surrounding scenery, as evidenced by a mixed palette of earthy tones and polished materials.

“The space is very much a reflection of Vancouver, which we see as this cosmopolitan city set within a landscape of raw, natural beauty,” says Abraham Chan, principal at ACDO. “It’s this juxtaposition between raw and refined that we sought to evoke in our design. Throughout the space, you’ll see certain materials and elements set in contrast to each other, whether it’s smooth grey oak flooring paired with sandblasted marble, or industrial steel set against softly lit walls.”

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Recalling Vancouver’s older architecture and its natural elements, Douglas Fir columns and beams from the original building were preserved with the help of heritage consultants. However, a key challenge was to interweave the building’s historic elements with a contemporary design suited to Avenue Road’s signature aesthetic. To achieve this, the Douglas fir columns were extended with illuminated metal arches, and the beams exposed and surrounded by drywall. The building’s exposed brick and exposed mechanical systems were also concealed, in order to create a polished backdrop.

The pairing of warm wood and illuminated metal arches serves to create a strong impression, and sense of intimacy, for the store’s main showroom, which houses modern furnishings from Bruno Moinard, Kvadrat/Raf Simons, Christophe Delcourt, and Van Rossum, as well as Canadian designers Yabu Pushelberg, Moss & Lam, Unit Five and Jacques Guillon.

Throughout the space, custom design elements were incorporated to tailor the store experience to local culture and character. Both international and Canadian artists were invited to collaborate and create in-store installations.

Crafted by Canadian art studio Moss & Lam, a ceramic wall on the main floor features 1200 handmade ceramic pieces glazed with different shades of blue. Drawing inspiration from the movement of water, the piece was incorporated to evoke the beauty of Vancouver’s natural resources. Another handmade porcelain composition, developed by the widely renowned porcelain manufacturer Nymphenburg, is also housed on the main floor. The artists developed a composition of Pacific loons in-flight, a concept that felt elegant and appropriately personal.

At the entrance to the store, a modern and architectural floral shop called Hanna by Celsia Floral, a revered local Vancouver florist, offers a unique and fragrant welcome to customers.

These custom elements help to craft an intimate, yet distinctive store experience for Avenue Road Vancouver. Opened in 2018, Vancouver represents the store’s fifth North American showcase, and first on the West Coast, with additional locations in Toronto, New York, and Miami.

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