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Eye candy for artists

Montreal-based Aedifica gives Omer DeSerres a monumental makeover. Similar to the way a giant gumball globe mesmerizes kids with every crank of the knob, the over-sized artist's palette on Omer DeSerres' St. Catherine's Street store front in Montreal captivates the artistic inner-child of all who pass it. With a rich history and a paintbrush on the pulse of today's artist, this retailer's architectural and interior design stimulates the imagination of all who enter.

Upon entering Omer DeSerres, six large, thematic prints, lustrous in both color and story, educate customers to the retailer's past life. A hardware store in its youth, the company evolved into an upscale art supply store.

Meeting the engineering, interior design and architectural needs of the 15,000-sq.-ft. Omer DeSerres was Montreal-based Aedifica. Jean-Pierre Genereux, director of design and an associate with the firm, had a two-fold design mission. "Our first goal was to continue serving specialized artists. Our second goal was to bring in new flavors and product categories to offer to the general public," says Genereux.

Tackling these goals included conceiving a clear merchandising plan for the 45,000 supplies onhand, perhaps the biggest design challenge, says Genereux. To achieve simplicity, these supplies were grouped vertically, on honey-stained shelves, rather than spread over several feet of horizontal shelf space. These products were grouped in "experience zones" - to produce a complete product story for the customer. Photos corresponding with the merchandise were hung within each product zone in order to give people clues to where different products are kept, says Genereux.

Like Jack climbing his way up the beanstalk, consumers find themselves rising to the second floor on a whimsical, fairy-tale-like staircase. "The stairs represent a core statement about the company being colorful, expressive and fun," says Genereux. As they approach the top of this melted rainbow, more colors await. "The core of the marmoleum-made flooring is like a neutral gray doughnut that circulates within the perimeter of the department and center of that circulation," says Genereux. Each department has its own color such as orange-kids; green-books; blue-furniture and papers; off white-fine arts; ochre-leisure.

These prism-like colors are well accented as fluorescent lights offer a moderate light level, easy on consumers'eyes. Track lighting is placed along the walls to showcase products.

The tables Aedifica chose have an "architectural language drawing from old typologies associated with an artist's lounge or studio," says Genereux. Tabletops are made of plastic laminate atop MDF (medium density flooring) with exposed lacquered edges and metal clips to hold sales cards and promotional content, says Genereux.

Additional consumer eye-candy is provided by large, wicker baskets as supply surplus receptacles. "In the past, Omer DeSerres took the product to the floor, but customers do not look at the space from zero to 24 inches from the ground," says Genereux.

The design inspirations for Omer DeSerres can be described as engaging; fun; and structured- yet-messy. "You don't want an art supply store to look like a lab, it has to feel like creative space," says Genereux.

TAGS: Development
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