Contrast and luxury are on display in this understated jewellery boutique

Located in Toronto’s Liberty Village, Carnabys is a jewellery boutique that offers unique collections, bespoke designs, and personal assistance to those who wish to design their own jewellery.

Interior Designer: Johnson Chou
Design Firm: Johnson Chou Inc.
Project Photographer: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc.

The project extends the existing corporate branding, employing black as the predominant colour, while the overall design is intended to convey the refined, bespoke nature of the business. The space is both a jewellery boutique with display cases in a composition that allows multiple options for visual merchandising, and a design studio, featuring versatile cabinetry to delineate more intimate consultation spaces within a retail environment.

Created as an extension of the corporate branding with black as the dominant colour, the space is intended to convey the artisanal, bespoke nature of the business, and is an exercise in restraint and a study in contrast. Contrapuntal concepts include: dark and light, heavy and weightlessness, textured and smooth, refined and found.

A clear understanding of concept eliminates the need for luck

Bell Mobility Inc. wanted a dynamic design for the launch of their new brand into the Canadian mobile phone market. The innovative Lucky Mobile kiosk focuses on the simplicity of service and their core offering of pre-paid SIM cards to new Canadians, seniors, and students.

Design Team: Allan Guinan, ARIDO; Nicole Hoppe, ARIDO; Suzanne Wilkinson, ARIDO
Design Firm: figure3
Photographer: Steve Tsai

The brand presents a straightforward offering: targeting a value-focused customer, with the design challenge of standing out in a vastly competitive market. Education was at the forefront of the strategy, as the kiosk needed to demystify what is often a complicated and frustrating process.

The big idea embedded within the design is the instantly recognizable ‘SIM’ card shape as a visual signal, instantly communicating Lucky Mobile’s focus. The approach was critical to differentiate this offering from their competitors while removing language barriers and increasing accessibility to those new to Canada. Clients can interact directly with phones while simple and engaging infographics throughout the kiosk help direct and inform customers.

The 8’x10′ kiosk design naturally guides customers through a step-by-step journey of discovery to selection, with every square inch being maximized for storage, technology, product, and security all within a specific per-kiosk budget.

The kiosk breaks the mould of traditional intercepts, with an open and social floorplan, removing barriers and allowing customers to interact more easily with the sales team. The space even incorporates customer seating which supports the employee’s ability to engage in a deeper, more meaningful dialogue, which is a necessary component of the sales process for clients not yet familiar with Canadian mobility programs. The kiosk also offers a place for families often shopping together or arriving at an airport (where some kiosks are located), the ability to wait and rest during the interaction.

The entire experience represents a new opportunity to engage with people looking for simple connectivity in what is often a complicated and frustrating market. The booth can be customized with ease, using interchangeable magnetized and window cling graphics. This allows marketing messages to inexpensively change position, languages, and styles to support the diversity that is a hallmark of Canadian culture.

The results are clear, the Lucky Mobile kiosk has exceeded expected sales targets, resulting in a new sales and real estate strategy. The brand is now expanding their network beyond the expected targeted of malls into premium malls.

Creating a Neiman Marcus experience

American luxury department store Neiman Marcus was selected to anchor the new luxury wing at Roosevelt Field’s mall expansion. The first store for the established retailer in New York, a response that marks an important milestone in the company’s growth as the state had been reporting high online sales and strong brand recognition over the past few years.

Interior Designer: Diego Burdi, ARIDO
Design Firm: Burdifilek
Design Team: Jeremy Mendonca, ARIDO; Tom Yip, ARIDO
Photographer: Ben Rahn

The design firm was tasked with crafting a holistic Neiman Marcus experience for this new space, featuring women and men’s fashion, shoes, jewellery, and cosmetic offerings while also housing the brand’s signature cafe and other VIP services. The goal was to design a coherent space in terms of planning and finishes to provide the store with a proprietary Neiman Marcus identity while allowing various departments, vendor shops, and brands to co-exist in a complementary manner. The retailer also wanted to reduce the long lead times associated with previous vendor reallocations by introducing a new “open pod” framework design to maximize brand and vendor representation. The need for clear delineation and flexibility in the new space was key to design success, creating opportunities for Neiman Marcus to respond quickly to changing consumer wants and needs.

Handbag area at Neiman Marcus with purses on display, marble covered pedestals at centre with shelves of handbags set against a flecked stone background.

The new Neiman Marcus Roosevelt Field is a haven for luxury shoppers. A luxurious palette of warm tones create a serene backdrop for the high fashion product collections and a grand cafe is a welcome social spot for patrons. Signature features and design elements anchor each department, and the selection of key finishes providing visual continuity and consistency across the large floor plates.

The design of the new “open pod” vendor shoppettes play a pivotal role in how Neiman Marcus innovates in this new store. Understanding the collective needs of both the retailer and vendors ensures the framework meets brand design requirements for both parties – Neiman Marcus needed to own its brand presence through the architecture, while vendors demanded opportunities for customization.

Airy garment display area at Neiman Marcus with open display racks for hanging garments, and carpet flooring.

The resulting design utilizes an outer shell that is owned by the retailer, while the inside structure, backdrop, and complementary platforms can be customized by the vendor to express their brand guidelines. The framework takes shape in multiple forms throughout the department store, with the enclosed freestanding fixtures in the handbag department and the perimeter wall framing and fixture system in the fashion departments.

This focus on flexibility has equipped the Neiman Marcus team with the ability to respond quickly to changing trends and consumer needs, a critical measure for brand loyalty given the fashion-forward nature of the luxury retail industry. With brand presence well received since launch, it’s clear New York is eager to transition from e-commerce to experience the Neiman Marcus brand in person.

Luxe redesign crystallizes William Ashley’s 71 year legacy

After nearly twenty-five years in Toronto’s Manulife Building, William Ashley relocated to The Colonnade, one of Toronto’s most renowned retail addresses and a designated heritage building. The design team’s task was to create a space that modernizes the brand and attracts new clientele.

Interior Designer: Allen Chan, ARIDO
Design Firm: DesignAgency
Photographer: Ben Rahn, George Pimentel

Inspired by William Ashley’s 71-year legacy, its abundant offerings, and the distinct character of the host building, DesignAgency created an aesthetic that balances tradition and modernity, appealing equally to a broad array of demographics. The glittering jewel-box like interior is defined by bold, monochromatic shelving that unifies offerings while allowing the array of products to convey their unique stories. Gold detailing recalls the brand’s signature boxes, and chandeliers and luminous materials accentuate the store’s sparkle. One remarkable feature of the store is its functionality – for example, the lounge is a place to relax or sample the products first-hand, and display tables can be joined in the central galleria to create a dining table for 120 people.

The main entrance to the Colonnade is now an elegant white and gold entrance to the store. Customers ascend a golden escalator and are immediately welcomed by the bright and airy setting. The design team established zones, demarcated by their materials, shelving, and lighting to create unique atmospheres for different products such as crystal, silverware, and casual dinnerware.

Each zone is rendered in a complementary neutral palette to let the displayed products take centre stage, with materials chosen to absorb and reflect the natural light that pours in from clerestory windows. Luminous white marble plinths display a range of glass and decor, adding a sculptural feeling to the space while maintaining clear sightlines. Recessed lights and glittering chandeliers from feature brands such as Baccarat and Lalique add to the sparkle, calling out products that William Ashley sell, and getting people in the mood for entertaining.

The design also facilitates the store’s multitude of experiential functions. Customers can sit in the lounge, outfitted with Johnathan Adler furnishings to enjoy coffee or tea while waiting for purchases to be wrapped, or have a refreshment from the bar. The grand hall is easily convertible into a dining and event space for 120 guests. 25 hidden point-of-sale systems mask the digital commerce and help staff orchestrate a seamless personal experience.

Lululemon’s Queen Street location ensures top notch customer service isn’t a stretch

Interior Designer: Marcella Au, ARIDO
Design Firm: Quadrangle
Photographer: Terri Flinn

For its new location at 318 Queen Street West, in Toronto, Lululemon asked Quadrangle to collaborate on an environment that reflected the brand’s community-driven ethos and Queen Street West’s one-of-a-kind vibe. The client also wanted a large, open storefront that would physically connect the public space with the interior and take advantage of the unusually deep sidewalks on this part of Queen Street.

Historic building exterior on Queen Street in Toronto.

The 1870’s brick building required conservation and restoration while alterations had to meet the requirements of the Historic Conservation District Guidelines. As one of the prime buildings on one of the best blocks of Queen West, the client felt the responsibility not only to meet the guidelines but to set a good example of best practices, acting as a “good neighbour” and thereby underscoring Lululemon’s brand values. This work was completed in cooperation with the building owner.

As retail shifts from brick and mortar to online shopping, we needed to address a shifting emphasis from sales to a gathering space where Lululemon can renew and cultivate great personal relationships and experiences with its guests.

The design team worked from the themes, “art, sweat, and community,” for the design and programming — inviting clients to experience the newest products and to access local culture. Completely remodeling the storefront at ground level, the design team inserted a bifold door that links the interior with the public realm and invites the public inside. The doors salute the area’s industrial heritage, which compliments the brick façade and mullioned windows above. Inside, the brick party walls were exposed, showcasing their warmth and texture.

Store entrance with mannequins in front of a brick wall.

At the front, “The Residency”, is a marketplace-inspired environment for merchandise alongside rotating local pop-up retailers and art. String lights twinkle over picnic tables, creating an intimate and relaxed social atmosphere while adding to the indoor/outdoor mix. A camper van designed by local studio Astound Group pays tribute to Queen West’s artistic spirit and its famed former “Speakers Corner,” where guests can sit and share ideas on video and social media.

Retro mural depicting 'Toronto' with scenery in each of the words.

At the rear, “The Hustle” is a community space for workshops and intimate gatherings. Highlights include a walnut ping-pong table by the Brothers Dressler and a custom mural by popular duo Greetings Tour. The area includes a hemming station and thread wall—purposeful and colourful while referencing the store’s location in Toronto’s Fashion District, and the complimentary services every store offers.

The second floor became “The Attic”, a bright and airy yoga studio that enhances this location’s special nature. This space creates opportunities for impulse purchases and attracts more guests.