January/February 2022


CI January-February 2022 – Feeling Good About Retail

Despite being battered by recurring lockdowns, most of Canada’s retail landscape remained resilient during the pandemic, and now that things appear to be picking up — particularly by forecasting reports anticipating a robust economic rebound in 2022 due to a successful vaccine rollout and a steady return to work — consumer confidence has rallied, showing once again how deep retail therapy can run.

In this issue of Canadian Interiors we look at a variety of immersive interior spaces that consumers are feeling comfortable patronizing and spending money at again. The first are a group of spaces that are redefining the modern cannabis retail experience in the new era of legalization and seek to be top destinations for design-minded cannabis consumers.

We also look at gyms, a segment that was beaten and bruised by the pandemic but to which it appears people are returning in droves to burn off that COVID bump.

Additionally, we unpack a new wave of multi-sensory “immersive tourist attractions” that combine music, sound effects, scenography and projection to bring new life to things normally experienced at a distance, but that now dance across walls, floors and ceilings.

We also point our attention to a crop of new interior products, including a recap of Host in Milan, which was actually three tradeshows blended into one to help diversify hospitality, food service and catering industry offerings to professionals still a little unsure about in-person events.

We survey Flooring products launched recently with new palettes reflecting the latest commercial design trends, ranging from an intriguing mixture of exuberant colours and textures as well as warm neutrals and natural tones; and a round-up of the Colours of the Year in paint that interior designers will be focusing on as we move through 2022.

And lastly, we highlight a design course at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver that generates awareness about the value of old-growth trees and the stories they hold.

Editor’s Notes: Booster Thinking Needed

The pandemic has shifted perceptions and priorities in many aspects of our lives. When it comes to indoor spaces, most people have come to accept what constitutes safe distancing, and in what conditions a room needs to be to limit the spread of a virus. As far as how we use space, particularly for work, well…that still seems open to debate. The chatter in late 2020 was all about remote work, especially when entities such as the McKinsey Global Institute predicted 38 per cent of employees would continue to work remotely after the pandemic. In 2021, with what looked like an end in sight, debates shifted to re-entry plans. Now, a new addition from the Greek alphabet is again scrambling a debate that, frankly, many are tired of.

A growing chorus, of which I am one, believe it is time to have new thought leadership on how we manage a COVID-19 endemic in the years to come. “We need different people at the table, with fresh ideas and a new lens on future issues,” says Dr. Elaine Chin, in an op-ed written for CanadianInteriors.com. “Robust conversations are necessary as governments grapple with policies to reignite a global economy. Perhaps a good place to start is to appoint a new set of public health officials who are less biased with the existing data and who can look at the numbers in a new way. A holistic healthcare team such as nurses, psychologists, and social workers needs to speak out about community care outreach and mental health programs for at-risk groups. Economists and small business owners must be heard, not just multinational and national companies. Few have highlighted the importance of financial health to maintain physical and mental health. Beyond infectious disease specialists, we should bring in data scientists with artificial intelligence experience to model all types of data sets so that we can make better decisions with more insightful information. And let us not forget the computer programmers. The reality is, we need more of them to support disease reporting and tracking, and to help us improve the logistics of booster vaccination programs in the future.”

We need to accept a little uncertainty moving forward, given the slow but steady awareness that we have no idea when COVID will become a concern of the past, and look twice at whether the best and most effective measures are still mask mandates, social distancing and lockdowns.

— Peter Sobchak