Pilot | Manulife

The new cafe in Toronto’s Manulife Centre builds on the brand elements that we developed in Pilot’s early days. An enclosure of vertical slats painted in patterns that mimic an unfolded paper airplane unfolds to open the cafe. When closed, the changing pattern is revealed as one moves around the space. Stadium seating is integrated into the millwork enclosure for the first time, responding to the busy foot traffic always present in the mall. As always, natural green elements are present, speaking to the brand’s commitment to environmentally sound practices.

“Aesthetically, we have always been on the same page, focusing on a primary concept to design beautiful and comfortable spaces that evoke a natural connection between the product and the feeling it provides you with when you are there. The palette has evolved with each new project, infusing light and energy into the spaces through a series of materials and finishes, including white oak, crisp colours, living walls and the paper airplane motif.”

As the brand influences the architecture, the architecture influences the brand, creating aesthetic consistency for Pilot locations within a series of very different spaces. The Manulife Centre location represents the most evolutionary point of that process to date, with sophisticated refinements to branded design elements. Spatial slats, painted with the lenticular image of an unfolded airplane, create a sense of movement throughout the space. Kernels of previous projects have been adopted, integrated and resized, including staples of white oak, metal detailing and living, breathing green walls.

“We approach every project by looking beyond the brief to envision the human interaction that is going to take place in a space. The atmosphere of the Pilot spaces has become as important as the quality of their coffee, and our iterative approach has provided brand consistency that is easily adaptable to the neighbourhood character of each new location.”


Photography by Scott Nosworthy