After creating carpets for high-end retailers around the world - Printemps in Paris, Bergdorf Goodman in New York and Gucci in 40 locations - we welcomed the opportunity this year to design for Canada's own luxury retailer, Holt Renfrew.
Working with Janson Goldstein from New York and the head office team from Holt Renfrew in Toronto, we were responsible for 10 diverse floorcoverings and a wallcovering project for the new 130,000-square-foot (12,000-metres-square) store in the Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga. (Located west of Toronto, Mississauga is the sixth largest city in Canada.)
Ana Cunningham who led this multi-faceted project at Creative Matters said, "Overall inspiration came from a variety of finishes, from cool marble tile to upholstery fabrics to what would create a gorgeous back drop for the designer goods." A common element repeated in most of the custom carpet was the palette - a series of warm taupe greys. In particular, Ana was thrilled with how the cool greys next to the warm taupes emerged in the carpet for the men's shoe department. Here heathered Matka silk (an Indian term for rough, handspun silk) woven throughout the carpet adds sumptuous texture to the natural light and soaring ceilings of the space.
The carpet for the men's shoe department was handknotted in India but the sheer size of the women's shoe department called for custom broadloom made in Denmark. "There was plenty of learning in this carpet as we expanded the scale of the Orchestra artwork (from our XXV Collection) for a rectangular rug into a massive wall-to-wall floorcovering," said Ana. "In fact, this is the largest piece Creative Matters has created that does not have a pattern repeat. We engineered some subtle colour changes to ensure the eight colours and six blends created the desired soft ombré effect."
Even a carpet that starts out relatively simply, such as the striae design for the women's evening wear department, benefits from the technical knowledge of a highly experienced design team. "We were able to get this produced with the lines running the length of the roll, making it easier for the installer when it came to seaming the carpet. It is much easier to hide a seam when you cut along the lines as opposed to cutting across the lines," said Ana.
For the women's branded fitting rooms, Ana said it was fun to work with Holt Renfrew on the wallcovering as well as the 100% wool broadloom in solid taupe. "They needed something youthful and sophisticated with very specific colours. Although we presented several custom patterns, the gradating blossom was everyone's favourite." To achieve the final effect, the design was digitally printed on a vinyl in a watercolour paper texture.
Almost every floorcovering for the new Holt Renfrew store has its own story and the 100% wool rug for the menswear department is no different. This design began as a simple watercolour in our inspired look book and was transformed into a 13-colour-plus-30-blend vision of understated sophistication by Ashley Solymar. For traffic resistance, she crafted a dense-but-luxe cut pile.
Because open spaces with heavy traffic demand more dense construction, the personal shopper reception was the only location in the store suitable for the handknotted technique. Here, Ashley created a simple-but-luxe gradation of four silvery blues that play well with the surrounding colours.
Holt Renfrew Square One was our first time working with Janson Goldstein. Steven Scuro and Heidi Engstrom brought us in to the project in August 2015. Montana Yates and Grace Eng from Holt Renfrew's head office also collaborated closely. Such teamwork and creative vision made it possible to deliver, less than a year later, 10 effortlessly complementary floorcoverings produced in four different continents. Not only did they span major methods of production, they also covered the carpet design spectrum from uni-colour, to simple gradation and striae, to curved perfection to massive expanded scale.