Technological advancements have clearly paved ways for many successful endeavours in the modern world. For Ssense, a luxury fashion and lifestyle e-commerce label, that milestone is marked by its first physical space in Montréal where minimal interior meets historical exterior.
As a renovation of a 19th Century building, British firm David Chipperfield Architects utilised the brand’s history to integrate with the existing structure’s past. While there might not be a harmonisation between the two, their presented contrast is intentionally shown in order to accentuate the difference of time. With technology as the focus, the Ssense store is cladded with concrete armature and metallic surfaces, forming a grey palette that acts as the neutral base for a diverse range of clothing and accessories display. Above the retail space is a rooftop café that houses concrete benches, tables, and shelves—lit with natural skylight. The precast concrete surfaces give an orderly texture to add more depth to the space, as the polished stone floor is implemented across the whole space with the occasional reflections of gridded metal ceilings.
While architectural elements complement a new customer experience, technological aids also enhance the process of ordering and fitting physical products by appointments. Ssense CEO Rami Atallah explains:
E-commerce enables scale but is suboptimal in important ways, especially fostering human connection. A seamless integration with physical spaces fills the gaps in the customer experience.
It is an interesting notion for David Chipperfield Architects to visually distinguish two histories and experientially narrowing the gap between technology and humans. In a way, both strategies raise invisible connections that are embedded within a simple design decision.