The “Is this a Store?” project.
Over the years, Iain and I have completed a few father-son design and build projects together, including a small silver Porsche made of pine for Cub car races and a variety of modernist chairs when he moved into his first apartment. so, converting 450 sq.ft. of former Dermatologist’s office to a snappy new retail space was definitely a step up in the scale of the projects we had collaborated on. I don’t know if either of us realized quite how much work would be required to pull it off, but it turned out to be a lot of fun with very few real challenges.
Iain began the process with a Sketch-up drawing of the space and the way he wanted it to be fitted out. That made my job a simple matter of bringing the design to life. We chose materials in keeping with the aesthetic of his clothing design – using local materials or those with minimal environmental impact- whenever we could. Examples of this would be ‘Enstron’ (a particle board made of wheat straw) for the flooring and interior beams of unfinished Western Red Cedar which came from a sawmill less than 2 km. from my house. I wasn’t too sure about the primary colours at first, but as the project progressed they completely grew on me and I think they help make the store more informal and inviting, just like an ‘Eng•lish’ shirt! The 40 display boxes turned out to be very time consuming, not in the cutting and assembly, but in the final trimming and finishing. Thank heavens Karen was able to pour the hours to them back at the workshop so I could continue on interior bits and pieces on Meares.
Looking back, the whole project was a financial and psychological success.“Is this Menswear” got a good store on a reasonable budget and Iain and I have a better father-son relationship than ever. Really, the only casualty has been physical. I typically lose a few pounds during the summer with a lighter diet and a bit more physical activity. This year, though, I have gained 11 pounds in three months thanks to the amazing array of pastries and lunches that Jason and Iain have felt obligated to provide for me and I have happily eaten.