Bowen Island doesn't have many vacant retail spaces available and its marina has even less, so when we heard that there may be a chance the 180-square-foot space between two restaurants on the pier could be available, we jumped at it. It was a raw space: the "floor" was the dock boards with cracks looking down to the ocean, and it had two exterior walls that acted as the space's interiors. But it also had charm, with its giant skylight, stunning rock face backdrop, and of course, its location, right on the island's marina pier, next to the ferry dock.
The bones were good, all we had to do was create a visual identity that would highlight what already existed.
As our first retail presence, Branch 01 was designed in much the same way as our studio's existing work, to be an experience around the idea of objects creating meaning, or moments. So we started with the bigger questions: What will a person's experience be in the space? How will they feel? What will it remind them of? How will it smell, sound?
Designed to be an easy, approachable, modern space, we worked to find a balance between the island charm of the surrounding Pacific Northwest and the modern luxury of the objects sold within.
As a shop on a marina, we wanted Branch 01 to nod to its nautical location, so material choice was important. The floor, walls, and cash desk are made using a variety of treatments of fir ply, with the focal point being the collage we designed and carved for the cash desk, inspired by international marine flags. This collage can be seen throughout the visual identity of the space, from the cards given with each purchase, to the wrapping paper we use to protect each object so it arrives at its destination safely.
The exact colours were equally essential in creating the full experience — it needed to be fun, light, and easy without feeling too young, old, gender or time-specific. Bouncing off primaries, we found the perfect coral, yellow, and grey to bring the space to life.
Along with considered scents and sounds, the result is a space that doesn't seem to take itself too seriously, one that celebrates its place in the world, and the people who make it so.
As with any child, Branch 01 will evolve season after season, but we're thrilled with it as it is, and hope you will be too.