Montreal-based Architectural firm Atelier Barda was commissioned to expand the headquarters of SSENSE, a fashion platform renowned for its exclusive original content and a curated selection of fashion for men and women. Located in a neighbourhood that was once home to Montreal’s textile industry, the 2,300sqm space was once used for logistics and warehousing. The project involved the complete redesign of the existing volume to meet the company’s growing needs while staying true to its strong brand image.

The main objective was to design a functional space that would speak to its original purpose and conserve its industrial look and feel by paring down rather than adding on. The vast space was entirely stripped and remodelled with a strict minimalist design, giving it a neutral but unique aesthetic. Far from ostentatious, the architecture has a deliberate raw-aesthetic keeping the company’s core values in mind and ever-changing needs. The raw nature of the finishes creates an architectural signature in which absence paradoxically becomes a language in itself.

As a formal request of the client, the project asked for a large open workspace, where executives sit amongst their team. Dismantling office hierarchy, the space would nourish the collaborative culture of SSENSE. Significant consideration was given to encourage communication amongst employees, stimulating creativity and autonomy while maximising productivity. Workspaces include bundles of long desks, breakout alcoves, communal standing desks and quiet rooms for silent work.

The lobby has a dramatic, sequenced, almost cinematic approach, leading from a dark vestibule toward the predominantly white open-plan space. Facing the main entrance, the luxurious lounge space acts as an oasis within the main circulation area, breaking with the neutral aesthetic. The idea was to create a more intimate space to encourage social interactions and informal meetings.

In addition to remodelling the space, Atelier Barda also designed a complete collection of custom furniture through its Foraine division. The wickerwork chairs in the lounge area, the solid organic-shaped low tables covered with tiled Italian terrazzo, the sleek stainless steel coffee counters and stools, the bookcase, and the conference tables are all original pieces developed in close collaboration with local artisans.


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[Images courtesy of Atelier Barda. Photography by Adrien Williams.]


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One Response

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    Kenneth Mason

    Stark, barren and where’s the urinal ? About as productive as an empty slate. The seating area/ commons area? ( Plants and composite coffee tables ) was the only inviting place shown. I can appreciate an empty space that is empty to be adaptable. An empty space that is just empty, displays a lack of creativity. Its like the old adage, ” Anyone can make a boring movie. Really creative people can make an interesting movie about being bored.” kapm


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