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The Olympic store

Features, Interiors | November 1, 2009 | By:

A winning retail design in Vancouver

Olympic spirit is riding high in anticipation of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. And who better to be named the official store for 2010 Winter Olympics merchandise than Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), Canada’s first and most famous department store. HBC was established in 1670 and is Canada’s largest department store retailer, and its oldest corporation. It is also one of the premier sponsors of the 2010 Winter Olympics. HBC’s new shop within its downtown Vancouver flagship store covers two-thirds of the main floor with an exciting environment flush with Olympic colors.

The centerpiece of the shop is a 21m long by 4.5m high curved wall with three polished steel archways that suggest the three Olympic medal standings. The S-curved walls, which hold stunning graphic images of winter sports, make a dynamic backdrop for official Olympic clothing and accessories. Multiple materials were chosen to make the massive structure strong yet lightweight enough to achieve the designers’ intention to have the wall suspended in way that makes it appear to float. The three arches that act as the main support are engineered using steel reinforcements and aluminum framing. The graphic elements are modular and can be repurposed in other areas of the shop or updated with another campaign after the Games have ended. The idea of re-usability—along with lightweight, knockdown components—is in line with the goal of making the project highly efficient and ecologically responsible. The designer’s mix of materials continues in the custom millwork base that incorporates glass, colored acrylic and concealed lighting that uplights the merchandise hanging above.

A dramatic “Torch Tree” that spans 21m across the retail floor has a 4.5m high PVC-clad column/trunk (for easy cleaning and durability) with fabric-framed branches. Another featured element includes changing rooms that take the form of pods with sliding doors that display “occupied” in seven languages when closed.

The entire 450m2 space was engineered and fabricated by Eventscape Inc., a globally known designer/fabricator utilizing a vast range of materials and manufacturing techniques. The project has earned several awards for its innovation including a Grand Prize at Globalshop in March 2009, and the first ever Visual Presentation of the Year in the annual ARE Retail Design Awards. Earlier in 2009 it received a First Place at the Retail Design Institute’s 38th Annual International Store Design Awards in the category of “New Shop within an Existing Department or Specialty Store.” It also won IFAI’s Award of Excellence in October 2008 for Interior Display.

Jeremy Clark, a contributing editor for Fabric Architecture, writes frequently about product design, interiors and new materials.

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