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For an industry that has done its time in the red, and faced the tribunal of critics declaring its demise, the iconic department store restaurant remains steadfast.

Surviving from a time when ladies lunched in pillbox hats and T-strap pumps, these places face the challenge of remaining fresh, quintessentially chic destinations after a day of shopping. It’s a challenge that Saks Fifth Avenue (Fifth Avenue at 50th Street) decided to address.

The 1350-square-foot eatery, SnAKS, at Saks’ New York flagship, is one of three restaurants in the store. “Saks had done customer surveys and felt it needed a food and beverage space near areas where customers shopped the most,” says Keith Rushbrook, partner at II BY IV Design Associates (Toronto), the firm that created the snack shop.

As a result, the restaurant set up shop on the fifth floor in the women’s shoe department, generally a non-hospitality space. “We had to meet codes for restaurant service, like installing grease traps,” explains Rushbrook.

A simple layout with a long bar and clean chrome fixtures gives off a mod vibe. And there is no era of influence, despite the 1960s Warren Platner-designed steel wire chairs. “We chose the chairs because they’re sexy and modern,” says Rushbrook.

The lavender, gray and cream color palette offers a sophisticated, unisex dining setting. But women will find a more tailored detail with tabletop flip-down purse hooks to keep their latest Louis Vuittons off the ground.

“This look is classic, not trendy,” Rushbrook says. That’s evident at the entry, with its striking black-and-white photo of Rosie de Palma, the glamorous Spanish actress of many Pedro Almodóvar films.

Client: SnAKS Saks Fifth Avenue, New York – Bob Tonk, John Rawlins, Jill Buesing-Rotundo, Errol St. Pierre, Jack Arena, Frank Matz, Peter Chachura

Design: II BY IV Design Associates Inc., Toronto – Keith Rushbrook, partner; Dan Menchions, partner; Allan Tse, senior designer

Architect: INARCH, New York

General Contractor: J. Tucci Construction, Bayside, N.Y.

Floor Tile: Stone Tile, Toronto

Furniture: Knoll Studio, Toronto; La Palma S.r.l., Cadoneghe, Italy; TRI-V Custom Mfg. Inc., Concord, Ont.; Classic Crystal, Toronto; II BY IV Design Associates Inc., Toronto

Millwork: Salzburg Interiors, Brampton, Ont.

Graphics: Saks Fifth Avenue, New York

Glass: Classic Crystal, Toronto

Mechanical/Electrical: Avcon Design Group, New York

Paint: ICI Dulux, Toronto; Benjamin Moore, Toronto

Pendant Lighting: Eurolite, Toronto

Screen Fabrication: Marc Littlejohn, Toronto

Photography: Ben Rahn/A-Frame Inc., Toronto



MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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