Global dot-com retailer SSENCE opened a brick-and-mortar flagship in its home city of Montreal. Designed by David Chipperfield Architects, the two-storied space boasts 13,000 square-feet on the historic rue Saint Sulpice, home to the Notre-Dame basilica.
The opening was christened with a performance installation commissioned in collaboration with Prada. Dubbed Arca/Tormenta, the installation explored themes of manifestation and embodiment – a nod to the label’s transition from digital to physical. “SSENSE MONTRÉAL is the physical manifestation of everything we stand for at SSENSE,” said founder and CEO Rami Atallah. “I am confident we have established a blueprint for the future.” Conceived as the spatial counterpart to ssense.com, the hyper-modern in-situ concrete design preserves the building’s 19th century facade with a building-within-a-building blueprint.
Through an appointment-based personal shopping model (powered by montreal.ssence.com), clients will have in-store access to over 20,000 products. The store’s seamless integration of online and offline is meant to “fill the gaps in the customer experience,” Atallah said. “E-commerce enables scale but is suboptimal in important ways, especially fostering human connection.”
With concrete and stainless steel design elements, the store’s futurist kilter reflects its beginnings on the web. Effecting a circuit board of displays, fitting rooms, and consultation spaces, it is e-commerce made tangible.