Few architectural projects have the kind of emotional pull that U.K. architect Alex Cochrane felt on his first Canadian design, a revamp of the iconic Holts Café in Toronto’s flagship store. It was a sort of homecoming for Alex. Years ago, he flew to Canada to ask Alannah Weston to marry him — an experience he admits was pretty nerve-wracking. “It wasn’t until Alannah’s mother, Hilary, organized a brunch at Holts Café later that I could relax,” he says with a smile.
It may sound counterintuitive for a retailer to lure customers away from the merch, but this move with Holts Café reflects Alex’s insight into the modern consumer.“We should be just as conscious of how a person feels in a space as how the space appears,” says Alex. “We wanted to make the café evolve from day to evening, and shake it up with a bit of color.”
We talked to Alex in the café about the retail design process and how decorating affects mindset.