EQ3, an internationally successful, Winnipeg-based furniture brand, opened a flagship store – its largest yet – in its hometown on Oct. 29. Located near the CF Polo Park Shopping Centre, this store is more than 40,000 square feet and may change the furniture-shopping experience.
Mark Letain, president of EQ3, shared the importance of Winnipeg to the company in an email to The Uniter.
“It’s where we launched the first EQ3 store and where our designs come to life at our HQ, so we wanted to create a space made in consideration of that community,” he says.
“We have a great amount of pride for our city, and this project presented an opportunity to celebrate that, bringing together local creatives like Chef Mandel Hitzer of Deer + Almond and architect firm Number TEN,” Letain says.
The store includes a 40-seat café. Its menu, developed by Winnipegger Hitzer, will bring a “fresh take on casual dining influenced by local ingredients and California-modern cuisine, complemented by a full bar and unique wine list,” according to an EQ3 press release.
Letain says that innovation, a central theme in all of his company’s endeavours, is reflected in this store.
“We imagined an in-store experience where customers can not only connect more holistically with this furniture and our designs, but also leverage off the expertise of our design consultants and tools like our virtual floor planner, QR codes and augmented reality,” he says.
Serena Keshavjee, associate professor in the University of Winnipeg’s History of Art program, characterizes EQ3’s style as “neomodern,” based on a revival of modernism.
“The modernist style took off in architecture and design after World War II ... and included really famous architects like Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Ray and Charles Eames, but also locally, there’s a long-rooted tradition,” she says.
“EQ3, Crate and Barrel and IKEA either make affordable reproductions of modernist pieces, or they make furniture inspired by the modernist style,” Keshavjee says.
She emphasizes that Winnipeg has a rich history of modernist architecture, especially stemming from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture. In fact, Keshavjee notes that EQ3 hires many of its employees from the faculty.
“It’s got that nice feeling that you’re supporting a Canadian company and, even better, a Winnipeg company,” she says.
Though some might say opening a store of this size and scope during a pandemic is a bold or risky move, Letain is confident with the decision.
“We don’t see the pandemic as a right or wrong time. Our hometown community has supported us over the last 20 years, and we want to give back to them with a new experience they have never seen before,” he says.
“We see consumers craving special experiences rather than the regular status quo.”
Published in Volume 76, Number 09 of The Uniter (November 12, 2021)