Peek inside any savvy gourmand’s kitchen and you’ll likely see it: color. A saucepan splashed in sea-inspired blue, a casserole dish tinged with orange, a skillet awash in garden-y green. French cookware company Le Creuset has been enlivening stoves, cabinets and pot racks with its line of boldly pigmented cast-iron pots and pans coated in a porcelain enamel glaze since 1925. And its loyal followers have followed right along as the retailer successfully tried its hand at dinner- and glass-ware, cutlery, wine openers, potholders and beyond.
With its brand perception as a durable yet stylish must-have for any kitchen firmly in place, Le Creuset turned to retail design firm and fixture manufacturer SAJO (Ville Mt. Royal, Que.), along with Sid Lee Architecture (Montreal), to shake up its in-store presence and create a prototype for future North American shops. Le Creuset’s former retail concept for its signature stores – found in two Canadian locales and several around the U.S. – had a dark color scheme that was saturated with its iconic “flame” orange and in-store lighting that emitted a yellowish tint for a more residential feel, says Victor Khoueiry, director of the SAJO Consultancy division.
To refresh this concept, the SAJO and Sid Lee teams turned a new 1300-square-foot mall location in Le Carrefour Laval (Laval, Que.) into a glowing white, museum-like space featuring a simple, uncluttered floor plan. What’s more, the designers brought a fully functional, ready-to-use kitchen into the mix.
“We created [this kitchen] to make a statement,” Khoueiry says. “We wanted to showcase the product in action so the buyer could project using it in his or her own home.”
Planted point-blank in the shop’s storefront window, the modern display kitchen adds a live-action element with weekly cooking demos using Le Creuset products. Khoueiry likens the culinary space to a mannequin designed to grab shoppers’ attention. A wood-covered entrance portal housing the brand’s vibrant cookware on shelves behind glass panels serves as yet another way to draw them into the store.
Inside, there’s a mix of natural wood and white Corian, two materials used to define the Le Creuset lifestyle: warm, homey and traditional with a pinch of sleek, modern and urban. The product is presented on multiple display-meets-storage cubes that are organized down the middle of the shop into a three-by-three-foot grid for added layout structure. To make the most of the small space and amp up product visibility, designers installed towering library-ladder-inspired modular shelving onto the left wall. “Trying to fit all of the SKUs onto the floor without overwhelming the landscape or losing the product punch was a huge challenge,” Khoueiry says.
For even more impact, sliding panels along the store’s right wall feature zoomed-in, black-and-white images of Le Creuset goodies that are accented with a few of the retailer’s signature colors and snippets of its impressive history.
Khoueiry notes that the brand has built two more Le Creuset prototypes in Denver and Scottsdale, Ariz., which are slightly bigger (1500 to 1700 square feet) than the Canadian version.
With this refreshed look, Khoueiry hopes that a shopper will enter the store and be able to instantly imagine a product in her kitchen and on her stove while cooking among friends. “Le Creuset is a traditional brand with a modern rebirth,” he says. “Cooking has become a form of social gathering and entertainment and Le Creuset is at the heart of this activity.”
Design/Architect: SAJO Consultancy, Ville Mont-Royal, Que.; Victor Khoueiry, director; Zoë Chen, architect; Peter Clarizio, project manager; Raffi Kouyoumdjian, general manager; Sid Lee Architecture, Montreal, Que.; Martin Leblanc, architect; Olivier Laplante-Goulet, industrial designer, Valérie Van Daele, interior designer
Fixtures: Trial Design, Valleyfield, Que.
Flooring: Cindy Shein Flooring, Dollard des Ormeaux, Que.
Furniture: Trial Design, Valleyfield, Que.
Lighting: Union Lighting, Montreal
Props and Decorative: SAJO Consultancy, Ville Mont-Royal, Que.
Signage/Graphics: Media Modul Signs, Brossard, Que.
Wallcoverings and Materials: Media Modul Signs, Brossard, Que.
General Contractor: SAJO, Ville Mont-Royal, Que.
Photography: Le Creuset, Montreal