Vancouver based Canadian designer and architect OMER ARBEL ofOmer Arbel Office (OAO) is making his mark for the first time in Toronto, with the design of a new 21,000 sq. foot showroom for KIOSK, a leading furniture retailer in this city. Working closely with Robert Sidi, KIOSK’S president, Arbel has created a complex three-storey space that challenges many of the established notions that commonly characterize retail space design here and elsewhere.
The project began with Sidi’s search to find the perfect location to house KIOSK’s two showrooms under one roof.
In 2008, after locating a development project on King Street East, in the heart of Toronto’s Design District, Sidi commissioned OAO to create a space that would be a deserving showcase for some of the worlds’ most distinctive modern furniture.
Passionate about modern design, Sidi looked for a designer who shared his enthusiasm. “From the start, Omer understood what needed to be achieved. Omer’s great design talent and savvy, combined with observational abilities and a sense of adventure are backed by solid professional discipline.”
A key element of the project was to integrate the three levels of the space and create a natural flow between them.”Our strategy was to carefully excavate a narrative of passage through the three story volume, so there would always be a connection, visual or implied, to corresponding spaces above or below. Various kinds of exhibition space, of different proportion, were woven together using a complex system of circulation, which has an understated but unashamed dramatic motivation,” explains Arbel.
Over the years, Sidi has observed how customers deal with space. “People relate to space differently in different cultures. Unlike old European cities where space is at a greater premium and people are accustomed to narrow often winding stairs, in Toronto it is more difficult to entice people to upper and lower retail levels.”
To address this, OAO elaborated a bold design for the stair systems with large expanded landings. The stairs are flanked by generous openings that add to the dramatic effect of the design and enhance the interaction between floors. Throughout the showroom, angled walls create a subtle path that ties together the various levels and engage the visitor in a journey of discovery.
To encourage light to flow through the striking 30 meter glass frontage, OAO decided to hold the two floor-plates away from the front window, leaving a habitable gap for light to pass through and create a relationship similar to the look of a large vitrine. This unique design allows oblique views into the basement and upper floors from the outside of the building, while creating an interesting natural light pattern on the inside.
Inside, the attention to detail is obvious everywhere. From the sinuous handrail that winds through the space to the two meter-wide, 10 meter long bridge made out of half inch metal plate that leads the visitor in. Designed with Arbel’s associated company, Bocci, he also included Bocci 22 receptacles encased in the large structural column. A powerful, yet elegant high concrete wall was built to frame the outdoor space and create a peaceful sanctuary for the striking furniture.
‘My wish is that this new showroom will stand clearly as a testimony to KIOSK’s ongoing commitment to the standards of excellence associated with the many companies we represent and to Toronto’s always growing support for all that is modern,” says Sidi.
OMO attended toWAF 2011 with Kiosk Project