Home. A feeling. A feeling of comfort, enclosure and intimacy. Home-making. An act. Creating the feeling of home.
The thoughtful design of our new retail space on Kennedy Street was developed in collaboration with Studio Hiraeth, a Winnipeg Interiors-based studio lead by Renee Struthers.
“Hiraeth is defined as a desire or yearning for a place from ones past, perhaps a place that never even existed, a longing to be where the spirit lives. ”Studio Hiraeth aims to activate this spirit found within each of us, through the intimate and individualized process of the design of spaces, objects and interiors”.
Home is at the heart of our lives – it was out of our own home that we started and operated our business. Our previous and first studio / shop soon became our second home – bright, warm, and tucked high from street level like a little tree house. When we began plans for the interior space of the Kennedy location, it was decided that we wanted to create a welcoming, open, yet intimate experience for our customers, so when we sat down with Renee, we knew we were in the right hands. Here, she shares her approach to and process of shaping the space.
A Room Within a Room
In order to create a sense of enclosure, a room-within-a-room was designed to give visitors the experience of moving through reduced volumes of space and intentional thresholds, much like moving through rooms within a house. Through the use of an achromatic colour palette, simple geometric forms, and natural materiality, the space takes on a neutral, slightly primitive aesthetic. The intention is to create a space that encourages interaction and is of the human scale; a space that is relatable.
A 24” thick stucco wall punctuated by a series of geometric niches presents itself upon entry to the space. It’s texture encourages a tactile encounter. The idea of the niche comes from primitive roots where early people would carve into the walls of their cave dwellings to serve a variety of functional roles. This new expression of the niche is intentioned to speak to the archetypal notion of home.
Two apertures present themselves as part of the niche wall. One allows for both a visual and physical passage to the back area of the shop which is stocked full of beautiful goods. The other creates an opening to the point of sale area, acting in a way like a window to the interior of the home.
Texture, Tone and Materiality
Contrast in tone and materiality are utilized as design tools throughout the space. The contradictions of light and dark, old and new, create a multilayered experience. The deep wall tone and black oak used in the back of the space act as a focal point, drawing the customer through the space. The dark walls and surfaces have the dual effect of creating a backdrop for the light wood tones and crisp white enamel of many of the products which are both suspended and placed upon the countertop and shelves. In contrast, the bright, airy tones utilized in the front of the shop create a welcoming area in which to begin exploring the products.
Contemporary minimal expressions of line, materiality and form are juxtaposed by antique furniture. The furniture tells the story of use throughout time, hinting to the lasting nature of quality goods, of their ability to tell their own narrative of use.
Texture and the use of natural materials are found in every area of the space from the stucco niche wall with its touchable curves to the use of tumbled travertine tile as a slightly uneven countertop surface. Multiple species of wood appear as both horizontal and vertical surfaces as well as in furniture and custom lighting features. These textures and materials add to the perception of the warmth and honesty of natural materials; many of which are used in the making of the products that occupy the shelves. The sense of touch solidifies the concept of physicality, memory and the joy that can be found in such an experience.
The back area of the shop is intended to have the feeling of a workshop. This area speaks to the perhaps less glamorous notions of home. It is intended to display more utilitarian products yet does so in a way that celebrates their otherwise mundane functions.
Four separate custom light fixtures occupy the space. Each adds a sense of human touch in both their honesty of process and use of natural materials. The wood fixtures were designed and produced by Karen Hare; the ceramic fixture by Leanne Muir.
Point of Sale Area
The small, low-height point of sale counter allows for the continuation of a feeling of comfort. While engaging in transactions the intimate exchange between customer and sales staff sets the tone for conversation and a feeling of closeness. There is fluidity at the point of sale area, where retail merges with the typical “back of house” functions to add to the intended feeling of familiarity and ease.
The space feels like home yet maintains its function of displaying the beautifully curated collection of wares.
Visit Studio Hiraeth to explore more of their work for commercial and residential spaces, small run furniture, lighting, and object design.