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Shopper’s Diary: An Architect-Designed Artisan Knife Shop in Vancouver

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Shopper’s Diary: An Architect-Designed Artisan Knife Shop in Vancouver

December 12, 2016

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.

display wall in ai and om knife shop by scott and scott architects 9
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.”
display cases in ai and om knife shop by scott and scott architects 10
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.”
display case in ai and om knife shop by scott and scott architects 11

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.

blue jute screens in ai and om knife shop by scott and scott architects 12
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.
knives in ai and om knife shop by scott and scott architects 13
Above: Chang sources his knives from Japanese blacksmiths, many of whom carry on a generations-old trade.
scott and scott architects ai and om knives 14
Above: The back wall displays whetting stones and accessories beside an indigo-dyed screen.
shelf detail in ai and om knife shop by scott and scott architects 15
Above: A detail of the slatted cedar shelving.
display case detail in ai and om knife shop by scott and scott architects 16
Above: The joinery of the display cases is sturdy but easily changeable.
circular window in ai and om knife shop by scott and scott architects 17
Above: Through a circular window, passersby can glimpse the chef and shop owner at work.
knife making in ai and om knife shop by scott and scott architects 18
Above: Chang whets the blades to keep them sharp.

For more artfully designed shops, see our posts:

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