Vancouver’s Treana Peake founded the Obakki label in 2005 to nurture B.C. fashion designers. The label’s name is Japanese for “ghost” or “change.” In an interview with industry rag Daily News Record, Peake defined its market niche as “a high-end, luxury line but with a casual feel and a rustic vibe….classic pieces but with a bit of originality and a somewhat fashion-forward attitude.”

With those parameters in mind, local architects Mcfarlane / Green / Biggar created the 5,500-square-foot Vancouver flagship retail store. The as-found industrial-loft shell had massive, rough-hewn timber posts, and walls of brick and concrete patterned by wooden construction formwork. To complement this “messy” aesthetic, MGB added a crisp, pristine, knife-edged white ceiling and wall planes to indicate the boundaries of program spaces.

One challenge of designing a high-end shop interior is striking a balance between display quantity and quality. That is: show too few articles and shoppers will deduce that their size is out of stock; show too many and the place looks cluttered and down-market. MBG struck an elegant compromise with custom display racks that are nothing more than ceiling-hung thin steel rails. The clothing hovers above the floor, preserving a luxurious vista of open retail space unattainable with floor-standing display units.

The designers collaborated with Vancouver artisan Brent Comber to develop a signature millwork element. The result is a stylishly shattered wood transaction counter and cashwrap that acts as a backdrop for white Corian jewelry-display trays.

MGB designed and built in-house custom chandeliers using translucent acrylic petals suspended from light boxes; the sculptural objects look like an origami swarm of blades from an Alexander Calder mobile. In the rear corners, two ceiling-suspended hoops are fitted with curtains that can be pulled shut to form change rooms. Normally, the curtains are open, preserving the store’s uncluttered spaciousness.

Design team: Michael Green, Michelle Biggar and Hozumi Nakai

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