Rexall

Wallboard Graphic, Brunswick House, TO

Rexall is one of the oldest and most established pharmacy franchises in Canada. In 2017 it took over the historic and infamous Brunswick House building on Bloor Street in Toronto, turning it into their new flagship store. During its lifespan, Brunswick House has been a hotel, a bar, Albert Hall’s music venue—hosting international blues and jazz musicians—and the setting for both music and comedy TV shows. Maintaining the architectural and historical integrity of this long established pillar of The Annex neighbourhood was a priority. The limestone entrance, vestibule, vaulted and tin ceilings, chandeliers, woodwork and wainscoting all underwent a detailed restoration. 

The brief was to design a large graphic board (17’ x 8’) depicting two timelines illustrating the extensive histories of both Rexall and Brunswick House. Placed prominently behind the checkout—made from Brunswick House’s restored barrel bar—its design had to emulate and preserve the heritage of the building. The challenge was the intertwining of a professional history with a bohemian one while living within a space now represented by the former. 

A recurring issue for many sections in both timelines was the lack original material for reproduction. Several key images had to be sourced online at low resolution and run through a rigorous process, without the aid of upsizing software, in order to disguise their poor quality at a large print size. In most instances the enhancement of degradation within an image seemed a better solution than trying to disguise it, and this helped add an aged and historic quality to the overall design.

A large proportion of the project was content research, and the clarification of information sourced from many disparate authors. Factual inaccuracies in press and media proved to be one of the bigger challenges to overcome and could only be resolved through a lengthy process of elimination by comparing information from multiple sources.

The finished piece acts as a poignant homage to the people and stories that made Brunswick House legendary while infusing a new Rexall story that compliments the space without overwhelming it. It gives the retail area the feeling of an exhibition space and this experience is enhanced by the accompaniment of artefacts from Albert Hall’s music venue years.
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