In the words of one of this year’s judges, Pusateri’s, designed by GHA design studios, elevates the concept of supermarkets into something sophisticated. The store treats food as almost a luxury items. It’s more Gucci than Trader Joe’s. But Pusateriri’s achieves this without being trite and without overshooting the goal.
There have been many stabs at upscale grocery stores in recent years. Within that oeuvre, a familiar palate has emerged, with many Whole Foods Markets setting the standard by which other upmarket supermarkets get judged.
But Pusateri’s moves beyond the common design gestures and manages to achieve something new in the supermarket space.
After its first two street locations and at almost 10,000 square feet, Pusateri’s took its first foray into a mall location. GHA was charged with creating a design that felt thoroughly modern and reflected a contemporary lifestyle experience. The new location in Bayview Village was to better serve the loyal clientele in the surrounding residential neighbourhood who previously had to travel to the other two Pusateri’s stores farther south in the city. The concept of “Food is Fashion” was a guiding principle in the design approach where food is presented within a visually uncluttered and refined setting.
The textures, colors and beauty of the food are the centre of attraction. The fashion look is expressed through the highly reflective surfaces, an aesthetic often found in high-end department stores and boutiques. Whether the shopper at Pusateri’s arrives from the mall interior, the exterior or the underground parking lot, the sense of arrival is impressive.
Each of the entry points has been treated to make the shopper feel like an exclusive guest. Product displays, though dense, are organized and the elegant materials are given the prime exposure with their large surfaces. The check-out area is meant to emulate a hotel concierge desk with marble slab desks and none of the traditional check-out cash numbers one would expect to find in a grocery store. In keeping with the store’s clean aesthetic philosophy, signage and graphics are minimal.
One of the challenges was to keep the cachet of the store as unique in a mall location as it had been in street front locations. The owner was concerned at the prospect of being perceived as a downgrade for the brand to be in a mall.
A lot of consideration was given to ensure the shopper’s sense of arrival would be impressive, be it from the mall interior, underground or outdoor parking lot. On a practical level, the flooring throughout the sales area is a 24” x 24” mini-crystal white tile which is daring for a grocery store. Numerous tests were undertaken to see how the tile would perform under the black rubber wheels from the carts and react with spilled olive oil and tomato juice. And the project was completed from initial conceptual drawings to built store within less than a 10-month period.
Pusateri’s continues to be considered Toronto’s premiere gourmet food shopping destination, equivalent to Fauchon in Paris or Harrod’s Food Hall in London. Its reputation has only climbed since the opening of the store in Bayview Village. The store has contributed to increased sales per square foot performance for the mall.
GHA design studios
Chorny Associates Architect
Mercor Lighting Group
Mechanical & Electrical
Millwork and Furniture
Exterior Sign & LED
Prime Visual Marketing