Avenue Road is a palatial furniture and home decor store. I don't use the word palatial lightly. And, forgive the superlatives in this post, but they are warranted.
This magnificent heritage building was built for the Consumers Gas Company. In its last incarnation, it was home to an Asian language newspaper, complete with all its printing presses.
The store has moved to 20 Wagstaff Drive. The writeup and photos are from the store's previous location on Eastern Avenue.
Yabu Pushelberg, the design studio responsible for the renovation, has stripped it to its fundamentals, and wisely opened up the space as much as possible.
The second floor of the building is a jaw-dropping, block long, cathedral space. It really is like nothing I've ever seen devoted to retail sales before - only churches, museums, or airports have this kind of space.
The room provides a backdrop to the stunning collection of rugs from The Rug Company, featuring such noted designers as Vivienne Westwood, Diane Von Furstenburg, and Paul Smith, as well as a rotating selection of furniture, textiles, lighting and accessories from Kvadrat/Raf Simons, Bruno Moinard, Christophe Delcourt, Sebastian Herkner, and Tribù Outdoor Furniture.
The fit and finish of the furniture in this three story mecca is unparalleled. These pieces are made from the finest materials, assembled by the most skilled crafts people from around the planet.
When I first walked in, the receptionist was away from her desk, and I thought I'd perhaps wandered into a private home or office, instead of a store. It wasn't long before some friendly staff appeared and put me at ease, but it was still another twenty minutes before I gathered the courage to actually touch anything. Seriously. Such is the exquisite level of the works on display.
As you enter through the main entrance, on your left-hand side is a breathtaking bespoke kitchen by Belgian brand Obumex. The company creates custom kitchens with the only limitation being your imagination. The fully functional showroom kitchen occasionally doubles as an intimate venue for private dinners and events.
Another outstanding example of design found on the main level of the showroom is Canadian Jacques Guillions' Cord Chair. The exclusive re-issue of this classic is available in several finishes.
The store's naturally-lit basement holds yet more riches. USM Modular Furniture, which Avenue Road also sells, is used to create the airy, open-concept work space. The central atrium area on the lower level features seating vignettes with pieces from a variety of designers that Avenue Road carries (and are also for sale).
In addition to the Toronto flagship, the company also has showrooms in New York and Vancouver. I'll be going back to Avenue Road just to visit it.