PROJECT LOCATION: QUEEN STREET, TORONTO
Cumbrae͛s, Queen Street is the most recent addition to the Cumbrae͛s family of retail butcher shops in Toronto. Its design is meant to express the unique and deep-rooted culture of this farm-to-table enterprise while creating an intoxicating experience beginning at the sidewalk.
The long narrow space at street level is lined with customized, refrigerated display units and walk-in coolers detailed like gallery vitrines with glare/ moisture resistant glass. The design objective was to create a dramatic exhibition of the exquisite product, without pretention, all while allowing the aroma and texture of Cumbrae͛s signature offerings to envelop the space. The second floor is equipped with a full prep kitchen with a central assembly area terminated by a large, tinted window framed in the shape of a cow much like an oversized branding iron.
The abstracted, iconic cow defines the upper front façade articulated by aluminum baguettes that screen the utilitarian kitchen space from the street. At grade, a double-glazed, large glass storefront draws in pedestrians right back to the steamy sandwiches ͞altar͟ clad in marble.
The design strategy ultimately borrows from the craft of butchery in order to achieve an environment of powerful display and seasoned, curated richness. Each building material is affected by select ͚operations͛ commonly used in the treatment of meat. Materials such as wood, stone, leather, gypsum, and metal are chopped, smoked, sliced, carved, split, charred, and stitched. Familiar materials are rendered supple and fleshy alongside their edible counterparts accentuated with theatre-like dramatic lighting.
Finally, the Cumbrae͛s story, that begins at the farm back three generations, is transcribed on the surfaces that line the shopping promenade. Beginning at the entry where striations of the veins of meat are CNC burned into the smoked oak panelling that sits across from the stretched and stitched pig-skin prosciutto counter. At each POS station the names of the original farms that defined each of the three Cumbrae͛s generations (Concession 6; Hamilton Place; and, Fitzroy.) This distinguishing philosophy that the farm source is primary, and a great element of pride, is further emphasized by a script of the names of all local Ontario towns that furnish Cumbrae͛s along a sinuous overhead frieze of deep, pinned letters.