After a year that has seen traditional retailers forced to close their doors, Permission is poised to lure shoppers back into the real world with a gorgeous, Reflect Architecture-designed space
We’ve all grown accustomed to ordering just about anything online, from groceries to home-office equipment to makeup and clothing. The pandemic has made door-to-door delivery a no-brainer, while boosting the coffers of major e-tailers like Amazon. But brick-and-mortar stores are part of city life, and – even if we can’t browse just yet – we experience them on a more social level than filling a digital cart could ever provide. That’s why as soon as lockdowns are lifted, Main Street shops are met with huge lineups.
As ever, great design can make IRL shops more enticing. That’s what Permission, a unique store that opened on Toronto’s popular Ossington strip during the city’s second wave of COVID-19, is betting on. “As the full impact of the pandemic started to take shape, we all appreciated that launching a brick-and-mortar retail space, as online shopping was soaring, would be challenging,” says Trevor Wallace, whose firm, Reflect Architecture, designed the shop. So the owners and designers focused on what felt most real about IRL. “We kept coming back to the value of physically trying on athleisure – and feeling empowered about your self image is what Permission is all about, as its name suggests. That feeling doesn’t happen online. In fact, quite the opposite.”
Deciding to stay the course, the team had to make sure that the design was “an inspiring space where people could feel great about themselves.” And, by the looks of it, they’ve succeeded. Taking over and rejuvenating an existing building, it welcomes gazes within through its arched window. Inside, a colonnade unfurls along the narrow, 86.3-square-metre shop.
The athleisure brand’s physical home took its inspiration from “the voluptuous curves and softness of the female form. Varying hues of nudes, pinks and browns on the painted walls and textiles represent the variation and range of skin colour. Diversity and inclusion drive the narrative and are emphasized in architectural elements.”
Once inside, patrons can appreciate the arches as deconstructed, light-traced elements dividing up and elegantly framing the merchandise. They are ceiling-suspended above a long terrazzo counter featuring acid-etched glass inserts and topped with a rock garden that “lends an organic sensibility to the space.” And they create an embracing alcove feel for visitors making their way to the back, where cylindrical fabric-wrapped changing rooms are ringed in halo-like Artemide lights. Who wouldn’t want to experience this firsthand? REFLECTARCHITECTURE.COM