Grocery Revolution

By Lola Thélin

Photos by John Scheffel


Shouldn’t grocery shopping be a sensory experience? The new flagship Organic Garage in Toronto’s west-end Junction neighborhood agrees and does so by offering customers experiences from an interactive TEAbot kiosk to a trendy art environment. “The key was to take art and design concepts and meld them with form and function to create a ‘wow’ factor for shoppers,” says John Scheffel, design associate at Tampa, Fla.-based api(+), the multidisciplinary design firm that designed the Canadian grocer’s new store.

The 15,000-sq.-ft. store features a new brand identity. Inspired by the store’s location in the Junction—a former industrial area now intermixed with an arts and entertainment scene—the flagship has a similar urban vibe with pavement markings, building and street signs, graffiti and murals created by local artists.

Built in an abandoned warehouse, the flagship’s straightforward palette (sealed concrete flooring with an exposed concrete ceiling and rustic brick veneer walls) is ideal for its unique elements. A majority of the graphics were developed by Magnetic Design in conjunction with api(+). Much of the static and digital signage offers informative and engaging messages that answer customer questions and encourages eco-friendly practices. In addition, all lighting, from cashier signage to refrigeration, is LED.

For the space, the goal was to merge form and function with an original art and design concept. The bathroom light signage made from oil drum lids and the wooden apple crates converted into moveable product carts are on target, but the top prize goes to the freezer section. The design team incorporated actual, aged scaffolding around the freezer section to integrate the overall design and feel of the brand and bring a dramatic atmosphere to an otherwise ordinary part of a grocery store.

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