One trademark of Lululemon (besides the infamous recall of the Vancouver company’s see-through yoga pants) is that managers contribute to the design ideas for their stores. The initiative has led to some novel innovations, including a facade constructed from 35,000 chunks of offcuts, by Toronto wood-working duo Lars and Jason Dressler; and a glass ceiling mosaic in a seafoam hue that emulates the ocean, for a store in Santa Monica, California.
An example of local talent creating an original identity for the global athletic-wear chain recently went up at its fourth Alberta location. At Edmonton’s Southgate Mall, illustrator Jason Blower’s 35-square-metre collage of iconography and Canadiana – including geese, foxes and an abundance of trees – makes for an eye-catching display.
When store design lead Emily Robin discovered Blower’s work, after a manager purchased some of the artist’s prints, she knew the imagery would work perfectly, so she took the idea to Quadrangle Architects of Toronto, which has collaborated on many Lululemon locations.
“Design is successful when it starts a conversation,” Robin explains, “and Blower’s work does that.” He sketched a series of landmarks and added the North Saskatchewan River, bending with the same curve as the company’s logo. The digital illustration was then sent to Great Lakes Woodworking in Detroit, where a custom technique was used to sandblast the mosaic onto reclaimed poplar planks. The stencils needed to be rescaled several times to ensure that the lines would withstand the process; otherwise, the resist disintegrated along with the wood. “You can still see some areas where it partially wore away,” says Blower, “but the imperfections add a beauty that machines can’t make.”