Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens
Loblaw Companies Limited has transformed the famed Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Conceived by Sydney based design genius Mark Landini and his team from Landini Associates, Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens is a truly sophisticated ‘anti big’ creation. an iconic Canadian landmark and former home of one of the most famous hockey arenas in North America — into the ultimate upscale supermarket destination. Massive in scope and ambition, the 85,000-sq.-ft. store more than lives up to its billing as “Toronto’s new crown jewel of food stores.”
The supermarket sector has been somewhat static over the past couple of years, with little of the ground breaking innovation we saw at the beginning of the Noughties. Certainly in the UK, the big supermarkets seem to be permanently stuck in a price war and a battle over convenience, with precious little interest in improving the instore experience.
So it is very refreshing to see that Loblaws has reinjected passion into supermarket design with what we think is the world’s best looking and most vibrant supermarket concept.
The 85,000 sq ft store is located in the iconic old Maple Leaf Gardens Building, previously home to the ice hockey stadium, and the design pays homage to the history of the building.
A sculpture in the shape of a giant maple leaf constructed from reclaimed blue stadium chairs, ice-rink light fixtures from the building, restored windows, exposed original concrete walls, wall murals and other artistic images are just a few connections to the past found in the store.
These historic elements are combined with slick contemporary finishes; stainless steel and blonde wood surfaces, glossy black tiles and a super striking red and orange floor inspired by the colours from the original Loblaws logo.
Perhaps more important than the design is the focus on food theatre.
There’s a specialist Tea Emporium, a full size artisan Ace Bakery and 14 instore chefs produce the best of East and Western cuisine, with a wood fired pizza oven and sushi kitchen. There’s an amazing 18ft wall of cheese and tons of eating points. There’s even a cookery school.
In other services, the store features a walk-in medical clinic. An in-store dietician is available to help customers decode and understand food labels.
The second floor of the store is home to the company’s Joe Fresh apparel brand. The 8,500-sq.-ft. Joe Fresh shop features women’s and men’s apparel, accessories, cosmetics, jewelry and sleepwear. The second floor also features an LCBO liquor store and Loblaw’s President’s Choice Cooking School, which offers everything from demonstrations to cooking classes to a Dine with the Chef program.
Equally impressive as the food offerings is the care and detail that went into the renovation and design of the historic space. Designed by Landini Associates, Sydney, Australia, the interior is striking, with bold graphics, stainless steel and blond wood grain surfaces, glossy black tile and a vibrant red and orange floor inspired by the colors from the original Loblaws logo.
The modern elements are combined with references to the Gardens’ history and its past glories, including a wall sculpture created from the arena’s old blue chairs that have been melded together in the shape of a giant blue maple leaf. And in a direct nod to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a red circle on the floor designates the former location of center ice. The columns in the store are adorned with images and text of the Gardens’ most famous events and celebrations. Past triumphs are also commemorated in photographs displayed on cafe tables and on wall murals.
Designing for food is a passion of ours. Whether it is a restaurant, supermarket, foodhall or corner deli we apply the same principles that it is the food that people come to buy and not our design. That way our work lasts. Many of these projects were designed years ago, some are very recent, and all of them seek simplicity over style.
Jury Citation: Australian Interior Design Awards
This category included many projects concerned with food retailing, signalling a resurgence of interest in food and design, particularly within food courts. The awarded and commended projects dignify the activity of shopping across all demographics. The awarded project, Maple Leaf Gardens market by Landini Associates, is an interior of complexity and richness; a market without the mess. The food produce on offer is the hero of the space and enables customers to communicate with food providers and producers, which is an essential part of an intelligent and meaningful shopping experience. Signage, colour and texture are used with control and deliberate intent. This is a massive, beautiful marketplace. The designers are to be congratulated on what they have achieved in North America and are encouraged to undertake similar projects in Australia.
Say the jurors:
“The food produce on offer is the hero of the space and enables customers to communicate with food providers and producers, which is an essential part of an intelligent and meaningful shopping experience,” they say.
The design, with its open plan layout and low customer/employee separating benches, maximise what makes food shopping stand a part from other retail sectors – the human experience. When we buy food from a deli or specialist grocer, communication about the products is encouraged and product samples are offered, turning a mundane shopping trip into a food experience.
“Signage, colour and texture are used with control and deliberate intent. This is a massive, beautiful marketplace,” say the jurors. “The designers are to be congratulated on what they have achieved in North America and are encouraged to undertake similar projects in Australia.”
Project name: Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens
Location: 60 Carlton St, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1J1, Canada
Coordinates: 43.661974, -79.379561
Type: Market / Super market / Canteen
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 85,000 sqf
Opening: November 30, 2011
Completion Year: 2011