This year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 17th edition of SOUK, an annual design marketplace showcasing the creative works of Montreal’s finest designers and makers has gone digital. The popular Montreal-based event has been transformed into a global virtual marketplace running from November 17th to December 17th, 2020, and brought to life with a new year-long physical design space hosted in the iconic 1 Place Ville Marie in the heart of downtown Montreal.
Thanks to its close partnership with global Montreal-based cloud commerce leader, Lightspeed, SOUK has been able to launch a fully-integrated digital platform to provide its virtual attendees with the same engagement and immersive environment previously enjoyed by its in-person customers. Credited for putting Quebec’s design scene on the global map, the annual design exhibition, founded by Creative Director & Curator Azamit, is known for its promise of pivotal and enriching conversations about local Montreal designers.
“We wish to educate people about local artists and designers. That has always been SOUK’s main goal. Now with our partnership with Lightspeed we are able to show others how to innovate in the face of COVID-19.”
Launched in 2003, SOUK has traditionally been a five-day event featuring 60-150 local Montreal artists and designers. The pre-COVID SOUK usually saw approximately 16,000 attendees each year. Renowned as the city’s much-awaited yearly eclectic gathering where connections are made and stories are told, SOUK is indispensable to Montreal’s creative scene.
“From a design point of view, we are highly-selective. In order to participate in SOUK we ask each designer to propose a piece that will be exclusive to SOUK. We try to ensure that most of our products are eco-friendly and locally-sourced — we ensure to highlight those that are on our website.”
In addition to the launch of the 17th addition, SOUK unveiled an online shop on November 17th, showcasing the 2020 jury-selected products and exclusive collections. And in keeping with previous SOUK events, the online platform offers singular and attractive content to highlight the participant designers and their products. SOUK’s eCommerce presence allows for a wider audience outreach and engagement, while also providing the participating designers with an omnichannel retail experience — a route becoming increasingly crucial for small and medium-sized brands to take if they want to survive in 2021.
COVID-19 was the catalyst for SOUK’s entire virtualization, however Azamit says that the eCommerce route was high on her priority list prior to the pandemic experienced this year. “I knew having an online presence was going to be very important going forward and our partnership with Lightspeed actually started last year. However, it was impossible to know then the significance it would have going forward.”
Azamit added, “we are proud of the voice SOUK gives our featured designers. We also believe that SOUK reminds people of the value and necessity of shopping local now and into the future. All of our products come from local designers”.
To add to the month-long virtual event, SOUK has launched SOUK Habitat — a fully-immersive shoppable apartment, designed within Place Ville Marie and curated with SOUK products, all of which can be purchased on the spot through its partnership with Lightspeed. Built to represent the soul behind SOUK, which is the city of Montreal and its creatives , SOUK Habitat encompasses the full workings of an actual apartment, with a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, and a home-office, a dining room, a walk-in, and a kids room, giving customers the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the pieces before any potential purchases. Housed on the 20th floor of the iconic 1 Place Ville Marie building in the heart of downtown Montreal, SOUK Habitat will offer a scenic view of famous monuments and landmarks of the city. SOUK Habitat is open all year long and is available by appointment only. To learn more or to make an appointment visit soukmtl.com/en/habitat/.
In lieu of the traditional setup, SOUK has availed Booxi — a cloud-based appointment management platform for small to midsize businesses — to ensure that customers still have the ability to make appointments and meet with the participating designers. “SOUK is all about creating an immersive experience. We were adamant not to lose that this year despite what’s happening around us.”
To learn more, visit soukmtl.com/en/edition/edition-2020/