It’s been under wraps for months but the two year-long renovation of the former Big Bop building at the corner of Toronto’s Queen and Bathurst streets is nearly complete; this week the hustings started coming down on what will soon be furniture retailer CB2‘s first international location. Owned by U.S. chain Crate & Barrel, CB2′s focus is on “affordable modern” home furnishings and accessories. The store opens next Saturday (January 21) following a much-anticipated press preview on Friday evening.
The renovation has turned an architectural eyesore, above, back into the graceful swan it once was. Built in the 1800s as an army barracks, the structure had many incarnations including time as a masonic temple and a United Cigar store, seen below in 1928. A fire destroyed the top floor and mansard roof, which were never rebuilt. At least the current reno returns the handsome red and cream brick exterior to its original grandeur.
CB2 is tightly focused on the condo/loft market and is taking aim at competitors IKEA, West Elm, EQ3 and Structube. A catalogue teaser previewing some of CB2 Toronto’s offerings promises some great looking pieces. I don’t know if they owe more to Tom Dixon’s Beat lights or to Hershey’s Kisses but CB2′s Noir pendant lamps, below, are sexy and vaguely exotic and with a price tag of just $279 I predict they’ll be flying off the shelf.
I’m also jazzed about the Inkwell bedding shown below, by designer Matthew Lew. I have no idea about thread count or quality but the deep indigo colour and pattern are amazing and the price is just as nice — $109 for a queen size duvet cover and $29.95 for the pillow shams.
Vancouver is next on the company’s expansion agenda with another CB2 store opening on Robson Street this spring. Stay tuned for a report on next week’s store opening.