Text description provided by the architects. Valise is a retail space nestled in the lower levels of Union Station, Toronto’s historic train station and transit hub. Dating back to the 19th century, Union Station is a Beaux-Arts public building that used resilient materials like stone, brass, cane, and ceramic tile. Valise combines the heritage-protected building with a contemporary retail design for juice brand Greenhouse Juice Co. It takes inspiration from the design of turn-of-the-century suitcases which were lined with fabric and secured with brass hardware.
The interior of the shop, like the fabric lining, is treated with precious finishes that line the walls to create a continuous display cove. Its shelves are brass, and its interior is lined with hand-glazed vibrant green tiles with terracotta grout. The curved ceilings and panelized walls of the cove structure reference an antique train car. Each panel is made of curved walnut frames with woven cane infill on mirror backing. They are a reference to Thonet’s flat-pack design for mass-manufactured chairs from the 19th century which became ubiquitous in public spaces.
The panels frame display shelves shroud a new green display fridge, and cover the ceiling. As with historic trains, the ceiling is curved. It is painted in mint green and frames four smoked mirror panels which are suspended above the space. When patrons enter the shop, their view is reflected in the ceiling which extends the panelized design into another reality.
The east wall is a preserved terracotta tile partition. It is the background for the service counter which is lit with a swiveling blown glass fixture on a brass post. Staff reaches a small kitchen by way of a tiled door which is seamlessly hidden in the tile wall. The material selection utilizes handmade finishes as the original retail space would have had.