Today we have a unique contribution to our column CAMBIE At Home, an interview series that explores the rituals we create at home, how we interact with our space and build an environment to support our lifestyle. After sharing such a big announcement, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to examine how we designed the CAMBIE storefront. Although we are not featuring a home in this edition, we believe the same questions apply and are proud to give the physical store a little tribute. Enjoy this Q&A with Camille Byrne, the founder of CAMBIE who designed the space!
How did you begin to set up your space? Where did you start?
After having my first storefront in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto for 3 years, opening the second location felt like an opportunity to re-evaluate many of the decisions I made the first time around. I had a second chance to change a few of my choices that were not as functional as I had hoped, an ideal scenario to start setting up a new space. For example, I wanted to build a cash counter with drawers that perfectly held tissue paper laid flat and pull out with enough space to easily wrap objects within the drawer, to free up counter space during busy rushes. I also decided to hang a grid from the ceiling above the window platform to easily hang window displays as the amount of nails and tape attached to the ceiling of our first store was embarrassing! Having a do-over made this process a lot of fun!
What emotional feeling do you look for? What makes this space yours? How does the store support you?
I personally look for a space that brings me comfort and helps me feel calm, especially living in such a busy city. I have always enjoyed visiting storefronts in my travels and the ones that I remember the most felt inviting and offered space to breathe, to browse effortlessly and appreciate every object on display.
I have always wanted the CAMBIE storefront to evoke interest and inspiration, to make you feel welcomed and encourage you to slow down and enjoy the details. I purposely wanted the space to feel like a gallery highlighting the colourful and bright textiles on display. I chose to paint everything white and kept the fixtures fairly clean lined, creating a simple backdrop to feature product and make each object pop. I also collaborated with local artists who custom made some of the store fixtures making the space truly ours, such as the tiles around by counter by Xenia Taler and the light pendants by Akai Ceramic Studio.
I designed the layout hoping to create a unique experience as you browse the CAMBIE product line. You walk into a narrow storefront and are greeted by a CAMBIE team member at a big beautiful counter which dual functions as a work desk and meeting space for the CAMBIE team. I selected display fixtures in a variety of depths and heights for this narrow space, including our infamous rope shelving unit and wide ladder-like piece with long rungs displaying hanging rugs. Finally when you walk into the back half of the store, you are welcomed by a seating area around the fireplace with the view of our back garden. I really wanted this space to feel like home, where you could throw your bag or coat down on the bench and sit for a chat. I purposely kept this area spacious so that it is easy to open and lay out rugs, and sit back to comfortably contemplate the right addition for your home.
What's your favourite way to use the CAMBIE storefront?
Some of my fondest memories at the CAMBIE store are decorating for the holiday season each year. We really try to create a special and mindful gifting experience and put a lot of thought into the whole process. There is always one late night before we launch when we order in food and listen to our favourite holiday songs, my request was always the Destiny's Child album, 8 Days of Christmas (ha!).
All of the parties (I remember the store-opening party like it was yesterday!) and special events we've had, including using the backyard in the summer months, are also some of my favourite moments. Seeing the space full of people and transformed into a completely different environment compared to the day-to-day experience was always so refreshing!
Where are you most happy?
My happiest moments at the store are quite differing experiences from one another. Sitting at the counter and striking up conversations with customers, regular visits from neighbourhood friends and catch ups fill my heart with such joy. And on the contrary, taking a break and having a moment of solitude to reflect on my day, making a cup of tea and sitting in front of the fireplace always felt like a private, special treat.
What are you favourite items to surround yourself with at CAMBIE?
I purposely chose to fill the store with greenery and add plants as 'store fixtures' with the intention of creating a space that felt inviting and almost like home. My favourite items in the store have always been the product. We always take a great deal of care curating and rotating collections of beautiful objects made by such talented artists. The face-to-face connection of being surrounded by my sweet, kind customers, friends and extended community is the absolute best part of the CAMBIE storefront.
Thank you for reading! We will be starting to sell many of the store fixtures over the month of May and encourage you to follow us on Instagram and sign up to our newsletter as we launch the CAMBIE mercado, our online flea marketplace. Stay tuned!
Photography by Worker Bee Supply.