The architectural firm Atelier Barda was mandated in September 2016 to expand the headquarters of SSENSE, a fashion platform known for its exclusive original content and a curated selection of over 400 fashion and luxury designers for men and women. Located in a neighbourhood that was once home to Montreal’s textile industry, the space has a surface area of 24,000 square feet, and was formerly used for logistics and warehouses. The project involved the complete redesign of the existing space to meet the company’s growing needs while staying true to its strong brand image.
The main objective was to design a functional space that would speak to its original purpose and conserve its industrial look and feel by paring down rather than adding on.
The vast space was entirely stripped and remodeled with a strict minimalist design, giving it a neutral yet unique aesthetic. Far from ostentatious, the architecture has a deliberate raw-aesthetic keeping the company's core values in mind and ever-changing needs. The raw nature of the finishes creates an architectural signature in which absence paradoxically becomes a language in itself.
Careful attention was paid while studying the working relations between the different departments within the company.
As a formal request of the client, the project asked for a large open workspace, where executives sit amongst their team. Dismantling office hierarchy, the space would nourish the collaborative culture of SSENSE. It was therefore essential to minimize distance between the different teams in order to centralize formal and informal meeting spaces, in addition to creating strategic hubs. In this context, closed offices and more private alcoves were positioned on the periphery of the shared work area to allow for free movement and exchanges among collaborators. Significant consideration was given to encourage communication amongst employees, stimulating creativity and autonomy while maximizing productivity. Workspaces for employees include bundles of long desks, breakout alcoves, communal standing desks and quiet rooms for silent work.
The lobby has a dramatic, sequenced, almost cinematic approach, leading from a dark vestibule toward the predominantly white open-plan space. Facing the main entrance, the luxurious lounge space acts as an oasis within the main circulation area, breaking with the neutral aesthetic. The idea was to create a more intimate space to encourage social interactions and informal meetings. In addition, the flexibility and fluidity of the space allow for the organization of corporate events for networking and celebration. The lighting grid of the former warehouses was conserved and reconfigured into a graphic linear grid.
In addition to remodeling the space, Atelier Barda also designed a complete collection of custom furniture through its Foraine division. The wickerwork chairs in the lounge area, the solid organic-shaped low tables covered with tiled Italian terrazzo, the sleek stainless steel coffee counters and stools, the bookcase, and the conference tables are all original Foraine pieces developed in close collaboration with local artisans.
The collection of innovative furniture was carefully designed to be both bold and functional while respecting the context of implementation. The numerous pieces are strategically positioned to carry forward linearity from the entrance arch. Their materials, textures and colours contrast with the stark neutrality of the surrounding space and embody the elegance of the brand.
Location: Montreal, Canada
Completion date: June 2017
Surface area: 24,000 sq. ft.
Photo credit: Adrien Williams
C02 loveseat: Black metal and natural, black-stained wickerwork
E02 bookcase: White metal
F01 chair: Black metal and natural, black-stained wickerwork
I01 coffee island: Brushed stainless steel
S02 bar stool: Brushed stainless steel
S03 counter stool: Black metal
T05 low table: Black metal and green Italian terrazzo tiles
T06 conference table: White metal
About Atelier Barda
Atelier Barda is an architectural firm that adapts its methodology to the unique requirements of each mandate.
Our multidisciplinary practice is guided by a commitment to fulfilling and even exceeding the design brief by pushing creative boundaries.
From research to the concept to construction, we work in close collaboration with the client, approaching spaces in an open, constructive and sensitive manner, and paying attention to every detail. Our portfolio features a wide variety of innovative projects entrusted to us through private commissions and competitions.
In 2017, the firm won the Architecture Emerging Designer Award from the Design Exchange Museum of Toronto in addition to being nominated for the People’s Choice Award. Atelier Barda also won a Canadian Interior’s Best of Canada Award and is cited by Azure magazine as one of Canada’s 30 avant-garde architectural firms.
Atelier Barda is based in Montreal and frequently works in collaboration with firms in Paris.
Foraine is a multidisciplinary furniture design studio founded by the architectural firm Atelier Barda. Our designers combine traditional and contemporary vocabularies, freely exploring uses and materials to create clean-lined, timeless pieces.
Whether we are designing a custom collection or limited editions, or adapting an existing line to a new space, we adopt an integrated approach, working closely with artisans and manufacturers at every stage.
Foraine is based in Montreal.
*****ALL PUBLICATIONS ARE SUBJECT TO REVISION BY SSENSE*****
Contact : Katrina Stubbs
T +1 514.384.1906
Note : More images are available upon request.