Unitfive Design Installs Handcrafted Brass Forest in Saks Fifth Avenue Toronto


By Hayley Arsenault • September 2, 2016

The 90-foot-long installation is rooted in a winding base that carves its way through the women’s department.

Photograph by Ben Rahn /aframe

A lustrous forest of nearly four-dozen brass trees has been planted within the third floor of Saks Fifth Avenue’s downtown Toronto flagship, which opened earlier this year. FRCH Design Worldwide, which designed the retail interior, developed the concept for the installation that was realized by Toronto-based studio Unitfive Design.

Founded by Lisa Santana and Kelvin Goddard, Unitfive Design handcrafts site-specific sculptural installations, lighting, store fixtures, furniture, and other objects. Santana says Saks Fifth Avenue was keen to work with local artisans, and collaborated closely with her firm.

The 90-foot-long installation was fabricated in Unitfive’s studio using traditional hot forging and blacksmithing techniques for a sophisticated, hammered texture. Composed of more than 5,000 linear feet of raw steel, the delicate trunks and branches were finished with a rose-tinted brass coating, and then rooted in a winding base that carves its way through the women’s department. Stretching from floor to ceiling, the metallic woodland boasts a sinuous structure that veils clothing displays with an ornamental latticework.

“The inspiration for much of our work comes from the natural world,” Santana says. “What appears random and organic always seems to have a hidden structure or geometry. The intent here was to create a veil of varying densities of texture and negative space to act as not only an entrance, but as a backdrop to the luxury products. Our goal was to take an extremely organic and free-form piece, and distill it down to basic units. When built, it remains fluid, with each tree having a unique feel.”