Above all

Often overlooked or underappreciated, the ceiling deserves a starring role – as remarkable recent projects in Quebec,
Manitoba and New York illustrate.

To design the first branch of Simons department store outside its home province of Quebec – in the West Edmonton Mall – CEO Peter Simons turned to award-winning Figure3. The result is a cutting-edge environment (recently recognized by the EuroShop RetailDesign Awards as the one of the world’s top-three best retail stores of 2013) whose finishing touch is a permanent installation by Canadian artist and architect Philip Beesley. Titled Aurora, the sculpture is composed of laser-cut stainless steel, glass vessels, acrylic and Mylar, along with computer-controlled circuitry. It creates an ethereal overhead canopy, which swells and ripples in an ocean of intelligent LED lights that respond to viewers gathering directly below. 

When Joe Fresh, the Canadian fashion brand, decided to take Manhattan and create a flagship store, it made the wisest of moves – into the iconic Crystal Lantern building, a Skidmore, Owings and Merrill modernist landmark at the corner of 5th Avenue and 43rd Street. Burdifilek’s design for the store is characteristically confident and serene, complementing the landmark’s “weightless” architecture. Dangling from a glowing ceiling, one of Harry Bertoia’s delicate Cloud sculptures from the ’50s – made of melt-coated brass over steel -– provides a ravishing point of reference for the shopper.

The owner of Quebec-based Solara Shoes decided to expand into prime locations in Type-A malls, but was turned down because the store had little mall appeal. Time to up the design ante, he realized, turning to Ruscio Studio. The first store, in Saint-
Jean-sur-Richelieu, introduces a smart colour palette of white, black and gold. The pièce de résistance is a whimsical “shoe cloud” comprised of 6,500+ discontinued women’s shoes sprayed white and randomly mounted to the ceiling one by one.  cI