Our favorite shops lure us inside for their design as much for the wares on offer. The newest on our list? Ai & Om, a Vancouver shop featuring knives sourced by Douglas Chang (a chef turned knife expert who’s worked in such prestigious kitchens as NYC’s Eleven Madison Park), designed by Scott & Scott Architects. David and Susan Scott opted to “present the knives in a manner which allows for their craft and practical beauty to be displayed”—almost as though they’re art. Join us for a look inside.
Photography by Alana Paterson, courtesy of Scott and Scott Architects.
Above: Ai & Om is nestled between tea and housewares shops. Inside, a built-in wall of cedar shelving “allows for the configuration of shelves in a variety of positions.” The wood, sourced from the north of Vancouver Island, is “left unfinished to allow for the scent to be experienced and for the wearing surface to reflect the shop’s life.”
Above: Display cases are mounted on frames of gray lye-washed ash and blackened steel. The yellow cedar boxes are a “quiet, light backdrop for the tools,” says David Scott. He adds: “The materials were selected for their properties of strength and value,” and can be moved around “as in a gallery.”
Above: Ash pegs and magnetic mounts give the illusion that the knives are suspended before the waxed leather background. The cases slide open to reveal hidden storage for the shop’s inventory.
Above: In contrast to the light wood, the existing concrete floor was stained a deep black, and the architects lined the walls with inexpensive jute panels that they dyed indigo in their studio.
Above: Chang sources his knives from Japanese blacksmiths, many of whom carry on a generations-old trade.
Above: The back wall displays whetting stones and accessories beside an indigo-dyed screen.
Above: A detail of the slatted cedar shelving.
Above: The joinery of the display cases is sturdy but easily changeable.
Above: Through a circular window, passersby can glimpse the chef and shop owner at work.
Above: Chang whets the blades to keep them sharp.
For more artfully designed shops, see our posts: