Ports International debuted in Canada in the 1960s and quickly became one of the country's leading fashion retailers, known for its minimalist, classic beauty and elegantly designed clothes. Hard times hit in the 1980s and the company was bought by a Hong Kong family, which carried on the luxury clothier's tradition of quality until it was ready to launch a rebirth on Toronto's fashionable Bloor Street.
Designers from II By IV Design Associates (Toronto) used cues from the brand's refined elegance and grace as a mandate for the flagship design.
The challenges began with the store layout - 1800 square feet stretched over a long footprint that was only 14 feet at the widest point and narrowing to 12 feet in the center.
Designers used horizontal ribbing on the walls to emphasize the store's length, while its irregularities create a play of light and shadow.
Five bulky columns that break up the sales floor were clad in espresso-stained wood, while the wood panels were extended across the ceiling to the near wall and reflected in the floor inserts of dark labrador granite. The result is a graceful arch that houses display niches in high-gloss white.
Between the columns against the walls rest space-doubling mirrors framed in stainless steel, while on the wide side of the store, the columns support underlit mannequin platforms.
Leather benches, espresso-stained low merchandisers and clear glass tables further add visual interest supporting the new design aesthetic.
Client: Ports 1961, Toronto
Design: II By IV Design Associates Inc., Toronto
Dan Menchions, partner
Keith Rushbrook, partner
Grace Eng, senior designer
Outside Design Consultant: MCW Consultants Inc., Winnipeg, Man., mechanical and electrical engineering
General Contractor/Furniture: ICI Design & Construction, Toronto
Audio/Visual: Sound Dymax Intl.,Mississauga, Ont.
Fixtures: Marlite Canada, Woodbridge, Ont.
Flooring: York Marble, Toronto
Ciot, Concord, Ont.
Lighting: Lightolier, Etokicoke, Ont.
Wallcoverings/Materials: Evolve Architectural Coatings, Toronto
Photography: David Whittaker, Toronto