Homes & Design Photo Credit: Stephen Wilde

Design Crush: This Backpacker’s Paradise Boasts International Appeal

Herschel Supply Co.’s new Vancouver flagship brings an adventurous spirit to retail design.

For any brand entwined with travel, Gastown makes for a pretty on-point place to set up shop: it’s one of the primary Vancouver spots where locals and tourists are constantly crossing paths.

So when Omer Arbel, creative director of Bocci, began his first-ever retail design project for Herschel Supply Co. on Water Street, he had a clear directive from both inside and out to create a flagship store that would embrace the globetrotting spirit.

(Photo: Stephen Wilde)

“The space is a celebration of art, architecture and design,” says Lyndon Cormack, who founded the brand alongside his brother Jamie.

(Photo: Britney Gill)

In the 5,000-square-foot store you’ll find the biggest selection of Herschel products in the world—including 800 backpacks on display—alongside a series of humanoid sculptures by Canadian artists that Arbel commissioned for the space. No, these aren’t mannequins: they’re pieces in an “indoor sculpture garden,” crafted from materials like concrete, cedar, rattan, metal and even macramé.

The cash desk is reimagined as a cave, surrounded by chunks of coral-like metal designed by Arbel. (Photo: Britney Gill)

He also brought in modern elements to contrast the original maple flooring of the location, like gleaming white shelving and a cash desk surrounded by coral-like metal widgets. One display room is filled with infinity mirrors, while large screens broadcast moving displays of Vancouver scenery.

Custom furniture, clothing racks and hangers were forged from steel into sculptural forms. (Photo: Stephen Wilde)

At the rear of the store, the back wall slides open to provide fresh air and mountain views. “For tourists and locals alike, there’s a connection to the outdoors,” says Cormack.  “It just feels like we’re part of the city.”

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