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Azure - - CONTENTS - WORDS _Renske Werner PHO­TO­GRAPHS _Richard Pow­ers

Av­enue Road opens a rus­tic-chic show­room in Van­cou­ver

Span­ning al­most a full city block in Van­cou­ver’s Gas­town, the lat­est Av­enue Road lo­ca­tion oc­cu­pies a two-storey, 1,115-square-me­tre her­itage build­ing that el­e­gantly fol­lows the con­tour of its gen­tly slop­ing site. Inside, the high-end fur­ni­ture re­tailer’s first foothold on the West Coast (the com­pany has two other show­rooms, in Toronto and New York) is de­cid­edly more dra­matic. Less a store than a se­ries of stage sets, the space in­vites vis­i­tors to move through a pro­gres­sion of shift­ing vi­gnettes, each com­posed of tightly cu­rated pieces that ex­ude a dis­tinct at­mos­phere. “Find­ing the right space was vi­tal,” says Stephan Weishaupt, who co-founded Av­enue Road with de­sign su­per­stars Glenn Pushel­berg and Ge­orge Yabu 11 years ago and as­sumed full own­er­ship in 2016. “It had to match a cer­tain re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence that I had in mind for clients – one that fos­ters a sense of dis­cov­ery, where noth­ing is im­me­di­ately open to full view.” The cho­sen site, at the in­ter­sec­tion of West Pen­der and Hamil­ton Streets, im­pressed de­signer Abra­ham Chan, hired to over­see the in­te­ri­ors, al­most im­me­di­ately. Be­fore hous­ing a fur­rier (whose vin­tage signage re­mains a fea­ture of the ex­te­rior), the un­usu­ally sit­u­ated struc­ture orig­i­nally served as a print­ing fac­tory – a past it shares with Av­enue Road’s Toronto store, an­other tri­umph of re­pur­pos­ing. “As a her­itage build­ing with a 100-year his­tory, the site it­self has a story to tell,” says Chan, prin­ci­pal of the Toronto-based de­sign firm ACDO. The build­ing has two dis­tinct pub­lic en­trances: the main one on West Pen­der Street and an­other por­tal into the lower level where Hamil­ton Street slopes down to­ward the har­bour. Con­nect­ing the up­per storey to the lower, which con­tains an in-house flower shop and a ded­i­cated space for The Rug Com­pany, is a dra­matic, sharp-an­gled stair­case made of black­ened cold-rolled steel. On the up­per floor, Chan worked closely with her­itage con­sul­tants to in­te­grate the original wooden beams and pil­lars into his up­date, but­tress­ing the lat­ter fea­tures – a sin­gle row of mas­sive Dou­glas fir sup­port col­umns – with an il­lu­mi­nated metal frame­work. Con­versely, he opted to con­ceal the original brick walls, shroud­ing them with pris­tine sheets of dry­wall to cre­ate a crisp, neu­tral set­ting that “cel­e­brates” all that wood. “We wanted to cre­ate a link be­tween past and present,” Chan ex­plains. “Our aim was a tai­lored gallery space in his­toric Gas­town.” In­deed, gallery-like de­scrip­tions do ap­pear along­side prod­ucts, which range from Christophe Del­court seat­ing to tex­tiles by Raf Si­mons for Kvadrat. But most items, as metic­u­lously dis­played as they are, aren’t meant to be seen at arm’s length. Rather, says Weishaupt, clients are en­cour­aged to sit on the fur­ni­ture, touch the ma­te­ri­als, ex­pe­ri­ence the of­fer­ings in as in­ti­mate a set­ting as pos­si­ble. It’s an “op­por­tu­nity to rel­ish them,” he ex­plains., av­

Il­lu­mi­nated metal arches but­tress wooden pil­lars that run the length of the store (above), lo­cated in a build­ing that once housed a print­ing fac­tory and a fur­rier (left).

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