Over the Rainbow

Textiles and Trunks

Estab­lished in the 1970’s by retail inno­va­tor Joel Car­men, Over the Rain­bow became a kind of den­im insti­tu­tion at 101 Yorkville — a build­ing now slat­ed for rede­vel­op­ment. The new iter­a­tion of OTR a.k.a. “Rain­bow Jeans” found a home in the near-by Man­ulife Cen­tre. This relo­ca­tion was the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate an Over the Rain­bow lega­cy project whose design imag­ined ‘the Rain­bow expe­ri­ence’ beyond the retail func­tion.

Cus­tom designed tai­lor shop sign recalls jean jack­et embroi­dery from the 80’s. Stitch­ing work by artist Aman­da McCavour.

The his­to­ry of Rain­bow is now embed­ded in the archi­tec­ture. Both price­less and afford­able items share the dis­play space. The exhaus­tive col­lec­tion of den­im is omnipresent, and now housed in mon­u­men­tal walls of abstract­ed and unfold­ed wood­en ‘steam trunks.’ Exper­i­ments with build­ing mate­ri­als as tex­tiles are advanced to include thir­ty foot steel doors of per­fo­rat­ed met­al recall­ing cop­per riv­ets typ­i­cal to den­im, braid­ed cop­per thread stretched as a loom ceil­ing, and furled felt walls push out to expose the in-store tai­lor shop with embroi­dered sig­nage and wall of spools.

The shop sits as an island in the Man­ulife Cen­tre retail floor, and a broad, open swath invites pedes­tri­ans from both the east and west sides, led by rolling, per­fo­rat­ed met­al walls that slide in front of ceram­ic tile ‘tar­tan’ and a furled glass vit­rine.

Over the Rainbow
Cop­per ele­ments recall riv­ets in Jeans against mosa­ic tex­tile wall.

Three shades of porce­lain tile echo the pat­tern on the bias on the floor, work­ing to uni­fy the series of dis­per­ate dis­play sce­nar­ios. The long space is flanked by a mon­u­men­tal, unfold­ed den­im wall that embraces cus­tomers at each end.

The ledge is crit­i­cal here as it’s where the very knowl­edge­able OTR staff per­son­al­ly advise each cus­tomer. This empha­sis on the indi­vid­ual is at the cen­tre of Rainbow’s phi­los­o­phy and informed the design of ‘shops with­in the shop’ and radi­al fit­ting rooms where each cus­tomer is cen­tered and sep­a­rat­ed by cus­tom lights and felt dividers.

Project Facts

  • Client

    Over the Rain­bow

  • Location

    Man­ulife Cen­tre, Toron­to, Ontario

  • Size

    11,140 sq.ft.

  • Status

    Large­ly Com­plete

  • Affiliate Architect

    B+H Archi­tects — Base Build­ing Ren­o­va­tion

  • Sub-Consultant Team

    Elec­tri­cal — BK Con­sult­ing

    Mechan­i­cal — MEP

    Struc­tur­al — Entu­itive

    Light­ing — Light Brigade

  • Fabricator

    Light Fab­ri­ca­tor — VISO
    Cop­per Rope Ceil­ing — Cobalt Fab­ri­ca­tion Inc.

  • General Contractor

    Struc­ture Corp

  • Photography

    Richard John­son

  • Artist / Graphics

    Embroi­dery Artist — Aman­da McCavour