Being second generation merchants, the owners of the Umami Shop conceived a dynamic world boutique/grocer concept which they had pioneered in Europe. Their flagship storefront in Chalon-sur-Saône, France, had opened up a successful market among an established and diverse ethnographic. Favorably, Southern Alberta had experienced increased international immigration and ethnic diversification, opening up future possibilities in their hometown. 

In a modern european style, the owners applied a minimalist decor palette to both the interior and exterior of the renovation, creating a simple but effective color scheme. To add to the international flavour, family friend and architect Ana Guerreiro joined their renovation project from Portugal. Drawing on an established vernacular, ARFAI and the Luu family team synergized a 6000-square-foot grocery shop and boutique, complete with a coffee shop and facility for on-site cooking classes. 

ARFAI applied the bold minimalist approach to the storefront facade, simplifying the appearance with the “less is more” philosophy. Elements from the existing facade were repurposed, including the geometric metal motifs, which made their way onto the interior columns. Many of the finishing details were personally supervised by Ms Guerreiro, who was never afraid to get her hands dirty. The light fixtures were custom painted by her with the brand’s bold colour. 

The bold exterior signage is highly visible and integrated into the bright facade. Leveraging its central and prominent location on 4th avenue South, many downtown employees and residents from the surrounding London Road neighborhood are drawn by its convenience and aesthetics.

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© 2017 by Alvin Reinhard Fritz Architect Inc.