what’s in store: edmonton, southgate
posted: January 13, 2014
We ♥ Edmonton! Even more so since opening our fourth store in Alberta’s capital city at Southgate Centre mall
Edmonton may not be the world’s most famous city, though it has donated a few famous faces to the world in its time—actor Leslie Nielsen, singer K.D. Lang, intellectual Marshall McLuhan (who coined the expressions “the medium is the message” and “global village”) and the world’s most famous hockey player, Wayne Gretzky, to name a few.
Edmonton is also the home of our newest store, and the heart of lululemon is, hands down, our stores. We introduced you to our Tulsa store and our New Orleans store, to and now we want to share the unique story of Southgate.
Our Edmonton Southgate store in Alberta, Canada
With average daily January temperatures hitting a low of -10.4°C (13.3°F), most Canadians associate Edmonton with the cold, though it isn’t Canada’s coldest city—not by far (Winnipeg holds that title). The capital of the province of Alberta, it is home to more than a million people and lies on the same latitude line as Dublin, Ireland. About 200km (140 miles) to its west are the magnificent Rocky Mountains, while the rolling lands of the North Saskatchewan River Valley stretch to its east. While Edmonton has gained global repute for its large scale oil sands projects, it also boasts the moniker of The Festival City, for a year-round roster of events from the annual Deep Freeze Festival to the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, North America’s largest live theatre event.
Yep, it’s a long way up, yet there’s still a lot more Canada to its north
“I felt so excited to be designing the last store opening of 2013, and to give our Edmonton community another store in their city,” says Southgate store designer Emily Robin, whose priority was to collaborate with a local artist to find a way to bring a community connection inside a busy mall.
“I know design is successful when it starts a conversation or is able to bring up memories for the people viewing it, and Jason Blower’s I [heart] E-Town graphic did exactly that. I knew I had to find him and see if he’d take our storefront project on.”
Emily presented the concept to our internal team, and every person who had lived in Edmonton connected to a different piece of Blower’s illustration. “I envisioned this happening with the pedestrians in the mall corridor, too,” she says. “That they would be drawn into Edmonton’s iconic landmarks etched into our wood storefront.”
When Jason—whose work was already in Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue store—agreed to take on the task, Emily approached the team at Great Lakes Woodworking in Detroit, Michigan. “They’re talented, commercial carpenters that were able to create a sandblast technique specifically for this piece. It was so vital to use natural materials to stand out within the glossy, typical storefronts that surround our new store.”
“There’s a ton of nostalgia in my work,” says Edmonton-based illustrator Jason Blower. “My Dad worked for the provincial archives and knows lots of local history—things often lost on my generation, things like why roads are named as they are, why things were built certain ways, what’s gone versus what’s here. His knowledge has really rubbed off on me.”
Jason “hated the ugly postcards that floated around” depicting Edmonton and wanted to promote the city in a better light. This appreciation for his hometown led him to a “one-off” project creating a graphic T-shirt for the City of Edmonton that was inspired by the iconic I ♥ NY T-shirt. “I wanted to speak to the personality of the city, so incorporated that shape of the heart,” he says.
Jason’s now famous T-shirt design
Creating the storefront for the Southgate store, he tweaked the design to reflect the lululemon culture, while still incorporating several famous Edmonton landmarks, like the Legislature, the Muttart Conservatory and…a whale? “That might seem weird to people since we’re not near an ocean, but there used to be a bronze whale sculpture in the West Edmonton mall. Edmontonians remember it fondly, so I’ve kinda brought it back.”
When there were challenges, he simply embraced them. “It challenged me to work still simply but in a different way. I think there’s a subtle complexity to it. It’s not colourful, but it still stands out.”
THE DOORS ARE OPEN!
Pics from inside the Edmonton Southgate store
What do you think of the design at your local store? We’d love to know!