Saks Fifth Avenue’s CF Toronto Eaton Centre flagship was a winner at this year’s EuroShop RetailDesign Awards, held last week in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Toronto store opened in February of 2016 within the Queen Street Hudson’s Bay building, and was designed by Cincinnati-based FRCH Design Worldwide, in collaboration with Saks Fifth Avenue’s internal design and planning teams.
Saks was one of three winners that were chosen over 80 submissions from 27 countries. According to EuroShop, the winners excelled in appealing "to a specific target group,” with "a clear message about the product range, a consistent store concept and a mix of architecture, materials, lighting, colours and visual merchandising that effectively conveys the establishment’s story to the customer." The other two winners included Primark in Madrid, as well as Rose Biketown in Bocholt, Germany.
EuroShop described Toronto’s Saks flagship as combining "exclusive objects of art with natural materials to create an impressive overall picture,” describing the installations and hand-crafted materials as being "inspired by Toronto’s natural environment”. EuroShop went on to describe how the store’s diverse materials, including warm/cold as well as matte and polished, were juxtaposed to give each department an individual look that is matched to the given products on display.
Saks occupies portions of the ground floor, second level, and third floor of the massive Hudson’s Bay building, which was once the flagship location for Robert Simpson Company. About 25,000 square feet on the store’s concourse level houses the beautiful GH+A designed Saks Food Hall, which is operated by Toronto-based Pusateri’s Fine Foods.
According to RCH, the store features three “design stories” — the ripple effect of the rain, the rough texture of the surrounding forest, and the anticipation of movement during a storm. Local and international artists were commissioned to bring the space to life.
The ground floor, featuring a beauty hall, jewellery, leather goods and accessories, includes an atrium with a dramatic OLED sculpture that was handcrafted by lighting company, Blackbody. Called “iRain”, the installation is meant to evoke the experience of a light spring rain shower, encased in an architecturally enhanced ‘totem’ column that is adorned with textured and mirror-finished bronze panels and encased in vertical framing.
The store’s second level features a 25,000 square foot men’s department as well as an 8,500 square foot women’s shoe section. Custom full-length illuminated vitrines and floor-to-ceiling screens help to delineate the space in the men’s areas, while women’s shoes feature the trademark hanging glass balls characteristic of Saks’ popular 10022-SHOE departments.
Saks’ women’s-focused third level was particularly praised by EuroShop, with its "stylised metal trees and wavy pieces of glass in the shape of icicles that call to mind the surrounding forests”. The ‘forest’ inspired installation, utilizing curved handmade metal tree forms (built by UnitFive Design) creates a “secret gate to Eden.” Rippled glass shards are suspended from the ceiling, along with a custom rug that highlights the store’s luxury designer area, featuring some of the world’s priciest fashion designers.
EuroShop also praised Saks' "open floor plan, which allows light to flood in,” along with “services like personal shopping advice offer customers additional luxury and convenience.
The Saks flagship at CF Toronto Eaton Centre is one of two to have opened in Toronto in February of 2016. A beautiful 143,200 square foot Saks also opened at CF Sherway Gardens, featuring fashions as well as an 18,500 square foot Pusateri’s-operated Saks Food Hall.
Saks is confirmed to be opening at least two more Canadian stores in 2018 — a 115,000 square foot Calgary unit will open early next year, as will a 200,000 square foot downtown Montreal flagship, complete with an 80,000 square foot ‘Quebec-themed- food component. Saks is also expected to announce a Vancouver flagship once details are finalized. It will be interesting to see if these stores will be similar in design to the award-winning Toronto flagship.