Luxe redesign crystallizes William Ashley's 71 year legacy

Luxe redesign crystallizes William Ashley's 71 year legacy

After nearly twenty-five years in Toronto's Manulife Building, William Ashley relocated to The Colonnade, one of Toronto's most renowned retail addresses and a designated heritage building. The design team’s task was to create a space that modernizes the brand and attracts new clientele.

Interior Designer: Allen Chan, ARIDO

Design Firm: DesignAgency

Photographer: Ben Rahn, George Pimentel


Inspired by William Ashley's 71-year legacy, its abundant offerings, and the distinct character of the host building, DesignAgency created an aesthetic that balances tradition and modernity, appealing equally to a broad array of demographics. The glittering jewel-box like interior is defined by bold, monochromatic shelving that unifies offerings while allowing the array of products to convey their unique stories. Gold detailing recalls the brand's signature boxes, and chandeliers and luminous materials accentuate the store's sparkle. One remarkable feature of the store is its functionality - for example, the lounge is a place to relax or sample the products first-hand, and display tables can be joined in the central galleria to create a dining table for 120 people.

The main entrance to the Colonnade is now an elegant white and gold entrance to the store. Customers ascend a golden escalator and are immediately welcomed by the bright and airy setting. The design team established zones, demarcated by their materials, shelving, and lighting to create unique atmospheres for different products such as crystal, silverware, and casual dinnerware.


Each zone is rendered in a complementary neutral palette to let the displayed products take centre stage, with materials chosen to absorb and reflect the natural light that pours in from clerestory windows. Luminous white marble plinths display a range of glass and decor, adding a sculptural feeling to the space while maintaining clear sightlines. Recessed lights and glittering chandeliers from feature brands such as Baccarat and Lalique add to the sparkle, calling out products that William Ashley sell, and getting people in the mood for entertaining.

The design also facilitates the store's multitude of experiential functions. Customers can sit in the lounge, outfitted with Johnathan Adler furnishings to enjoy coffee or tea while waiting for purchases to be wrapped, or have a refreshment from the bar. The grand hall is easily convertible into a dining and event space for 120 guests. 25 hidden point-of-sale systems mask the digital commerce and help staff orchestrate a seamless personal experience.

Allen Chan

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