Place: A former warehouse rehabilitated as office space Year of completion: 2007 Client: The Bos advertising agency, Lachine Canal, Montréal.

    “The project specifications included furniture selection, surface treatments and lighting. After some study, I realized that the furniture available in the market would not be appropriate to the building’s strong, heavy architecture.  In addition, Bos projects a strong personality and needed something else than the anonymity of standard production furniture. The project called for a custom design.”

    Steel was selected as a point of departure for the furniture design, as it was not only well suited to the brutality of the space, it is also associated with the industrial history of the Lachine Canal. When patinated with wax, steel trades its coldness for a very soft, velvety surface that adds sophistication without tarnishing the original colour. Drawing on the essential nature of the material, the design cuts to the chase, while the notion of high tech triumphs in the visible signs of construction. At the edges and under the steel facing, tables and work stations reveal a plywood structure while, at the same time, affirm corporate policy: no tricks here. 

    The planning, through its biting minimalism, sends another message: here, the design gets straight to the point. Characterized by an incomparable nudity, the two conference rooms are no place for pointless blah-blah-blah.  From behind a glazed partition, they look out on both the canal and the reception area, and are connected by full-height doors/screens. For added visual flow, the wall of the projection screen is panelled like the floors, and the blinds, when raised, slip discretely into the ceiling. Wheels hidden in the table bases allow them to be placed in any desired configuration. Freed from its technical devices, the space becomes a play of transparency and light.

    This universe of sombre bricks and wood, exposed structural elements and steel could be oppressive if not for the great care paid to lighting. Around the periphery of each floor, spots mounted on tracks wash the walls with light and shadow effects that soften the coarse bricks, bringing out certain architectural details and lending a sense of intimacy to the space. The building is bathed in a soothing light that evokes the silent essence of things. In contrast, the narrow beams of the two Tolomeo lights installed in each work station signal zones of intellectual activity. Does the creative act not represent a movement from shadow to light?

    Project manager: Anne-Joëlle Chamberland / Architect: Luc Laporte / Photographs: Marc Cramer