SOUK 17: Expect the unexpected at the 2020 design event

Laure Juilliard

Laure is a writer, community manager and the founder of the blog Une Parisienne à Montréal. She’s also an epicurean globetrotter who’s always on the hunt for innovative concepts and must-try restaurants. In 2016, she co-founded Slow Journeys, a webzine that focuses on ecotourism and design.

Now extended until December 24, this year’s event promises to reinvent the consumer experience and discovery with a new creative lab. As always, SOUK founder and creative director Azamit has come up with a made-to-measure program. She’s also teamed up with a new jury to carefully select the very best of Montréal’s creative offerings. The program includes insightful talks and discussion panels, quality content and exclusive collections of products available through a sophisticated online boutique powered by Lightspeed. SOUK is also branching out this year with a brand-new space located on the 20th floor of Place Ville-Marie. SOUK HABITAT opens its doors on December 3. 

How COVID-19 changed SOUK

For Azamit, viewing the pandemic as an obstacle was never an option. “We’ve had to be more open and more flexible, and designers were eager to reinvent themselves. COVID-19 forced us to go further and faster, all at once.” By doubling down on effort and ramping up on inventiveness, she came out with an evolved concept, a refreshed visual image and a number of talented teams of Montréalers at her side. “This year, we naturally gravitated toward a transactional platform. But we didn’t stop there. The jury decided to be more selective and intentional about their choices for our highly curated shop inventory. This year’s criteria are exclusivity, local production and environmental responsibility. For added fun, the SOUK platform also proposes “Curated by” selections chosen by personalities in food, design and fashion. Shoppers can also sort by theme.

Elevating the experience with a new design space

The new space is this year’s biggest announcement. “I realized the event was missing a human component, so we decided to open a physical space inspired by SOUK.” Designed by Montréal creative firm Machine, the 9,300 square-foot ultra-contemporary apartment/boutique opens its doors on December 3. It’s located on the 20th Floor of 1 Place Ville-Marie, in Suite 2030. “The space offers 180-degree views of the city, including the mountain, both major bridges and the Olympic Stadium. There’s a café, a click-and-collect service and one-on-one appointments for personalized service. Of course, all public health measures will be rigorously applied.” SOUK HABITAT will remain open for a year, inviting guests to a private and privileged exploration of Montréal design in a warm, intimate space clad in concrete. 

A quintessentially Montréal new image

But the adventure doesn’t end there. “To underscore this year’s different approach, we decided to revamp SOUK’s visual signature with inspirations from Montréal architecture. Since concrete defines the city and some of its best-known buildings, such as Place Bonaventure and Habitat 67, we’ve allowed this material to permeate our campaign.” SOUK products are featured in a neutral yet warm minimalist space that highlights each item’s exclusive character and transforms them into objects of desire. It’s the perfect backdrop to Montréal creativity. 

Connecting with the public

Since fans won’t be able to meet designers in person this year, SOUK will be using the Booxi appointment app to help people connect. Visitors can schedule online meetings with designers, visit their workshop virtually, sit in on talks or join live cooking workshops. “SOUK experts” will also be on hand to help shoppers choose products and provide them with information as needed. The talks, panel discussions and IGTV, organized jointly with the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) and Dezeen magazine, will mainly focus on how the pandemic has impacted personal spaces and shifted design trends. The program will also include discussions on the importance of vibrant urban centres, the future of shopping, retail in the era of change, new work methods, eco-responsibility and the power of grassroots movements. The event starts November 17!

Laure Juilliard

Laure is a writer, community manager and the founder of the blog Une Parisienne à Montréal. She’s also an epicurean globetrotter who’s always on the hunt for innovative concepts and must-try restaurants. In 2016, she co-founded Slow Journeys, a webzine that focuses on ecotourism and design.

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