Accentuate the positive: The Biodôme Boutique

The Biôdome boutique is an interior design project of modular furniture and storage units for the gift shop space of the renovated Montreal Biôdome. The mandate given by Espace pour la vie (the city of Montreal) was to renovate the 2,100-sq.-ft. boutique to revive the user experience of the space, increase traffic, and stimulate sales. The interior design by ADHOC Architectes and MESSIER designers communicates the clients mission and contributes to visitors’ experience of the unique identity of the Biodôme while proposing a furniture arrangement that can adapt to the evolving needs of the client to ensure the sustainability of the installation.

The Biodôme Boutique (photo by: Raphaël Thibodeau)

Inspired by structure and organization in nature, this project was modeled on the shape of a cell, the fundamental unit of structure in all biology capable of autonomous reproduction. The Biôdome being the ‘House of life’, it was fitting to draw a formal parallel between the natural cell and the module. After exhaustive research on natural forms, cellular organization and subsequent geometric exploration, the hexagonal frustum was determined to be the most optimal and versatile shape for this project’s particular needs. Several natural phenomena at different scales provided formal inspiration, including basaltic rock formation and beehives.

The design approach rests thus on the creation of simple elements (the cells) that can be spatially arranged and connected to construct complex modules. These modules, once combined, respond to the operational and functional need of showcasing products and defining space. Like a living organism capable of adapting and responding to its environment, this “living” boutique will evolve with the ebb and flow of the seasons and years. As the products change to adapt to the demand of the clientele, so too can the modular arrangement.

The Biodôme Boutique (photo by: Raphaël Thibodeau)

Durable furniture, for a minimalist boutique that emphasizes the essential. The four base modules are designed to respond to varying product showcasing needs to which accessories can be added. This concept allows for almost infinite composition and reconfiguration possibilities. The approach pays tribute to the museum’s most important teachings: the adaptive evolution between wildlife and its natural environment in perpetual change. 

Each base module has its own size and specific tint of white. These whites were carefully selected to break the uniformity of industrial production, and to express the colour variations found in geological and natural formations. The main material used for the fabrication of the modules is laser-cut, folded and welded steel covered with a heavy-duty baked-on polymer paint. Oak was favoured for the wooden elements, namely a feature wall and the tops of the modules. These materials were chosen for their exceptional durability and reduced environmental footprint.

The Biodôme Boutique (photo by: Raphaël Thibodeau)

The space is minimalist in order to emphasize products and ensure smooth customer circulation. The furniture can accommodate toys, jewelry, sweets, books and clothing, which have been carefully selected by the Biodôme team. In the spirit of the Biôdome’s project Migration, which highlights the notions of movement and perpetual change, the boutique embodies the continuance of the experience of the Biôdome and perpetuates it beyond the context of the museum.

Project Name: The Biodôme Boutique
Studio Name: ADHOC Architectes and MESSIER designers
Design Team:

  • Jean-François St-Onge / Artistic director, ADHOC Architectes
  • Anik Malderis / Project manager, ADHOC Architectes
  • Maryse Allard / Architectural designer, ADHOC Architectes
  • Patrick Messier / Artistic director and industrial design, MESSIER designers
  • Vincent Cloutier / Project manager and industrial design, MESSIER designers
  • Éric Beauchemin / Preliminary industrial design, MESSIER designers

Area: 2,100 square feet
Cost: $200,000

Project manager: Gestion BGC

Metal furniture fabricator: Métal CN

Photography Credits: Raphaël Thibodeau