Brand Loyalty

In architecture and interior design, “branding” is often a bad idea. Too frequently it means applying existing identities (logos, color schemes) to a large-scale project that should properly be grounded in other concerns (form, user experience). But the new flagship store for affordable-design giant Umbra, which opened in downtown Toronto last June, is a rare instance of brand-as-architecture that actually works.

The exterior of the three-story box, designed by local firm Kohn Shnier Architects, is clad in LED-lit polycarbonate strips in the signature pink hue—“Think Pink”—used in some of the company’s most successful products (notably Karim Rashid’s Oh Chair). Inside the 7,000-square-foot store, interior architects Figure3 crafted a bright white space with one signature decorative element: a row of five chandeliers made from Umbra’s Flow lamps, mounted a dozen at a time and suspended in the central two-story atrium. The resulting space feels like Umbra at its best—colorful and somewhat novel, but also straightforward and well designed. Now that’s branding.

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