TPL Lighting sales agency has transformed a historic Toronto townhouse into an experiential showcase for specifiers and designers.

By Linda Longo

As an immersive way for clients to experience the illumination quality and aesthetics of the architectural and decorative luminaires they might consider for projects, the family-owned Canadian sales agency TPL Lighting has opened “The Adelaide Project.”

Housed in a century-old condo separate from the agency’s headquarters on Ripley Avenue, The Adelaide Project is a revolutionary studio concept that was conceived, curated, and designed by the TPL team and located on Adelaide Street in the heart of Toronto’s King West neighborhood.

The concept is certainly unique for a sales agency to be able to provide such an elegant visual presentation – room upon room of thoughtfully selected vignettes – for the manufacturers it represents. Notes Karolyn Pott, VP/Operations & Administration of The Adelaide Project and a co-owner of the agency, “TPL Lighting represents 40 manufacturers, all of whom we hope to have on display over time. We currently have products from about half of our lines in-situ at the house.”

TPL Lighting sales agency

Clarisa Llaneza, Creative Director of The Adelaide Project, adds, “While manufacturers do not pay a fee, most have provided samples that are on display. The products shown are curated by myself, based on input from the specification representatives, clients, and by studying current global trends, projects, and technologies.”

The displays and products will be rotated every few months to keep the looks current. “We have designed the space to allow for maximum flexibility so that we can rotate our manufacturers and their respective products,” Llaneza states. “Lighting can be a bit of a mystery for some of our clients; controls even more so. By rotating the types of products through a variety of applications, we are striving to [demonstrate] how lighting is a versatile and effective way to bring the spirit of a space to life.”

The main priority is to address foundational design challenges when it comes to lighting and controls. According to Llaneza, this means illuminating specific rooms (i.e. a bedroom, living room) and “getting the colors right,” for instance bringing warmth and intimacy to open spaces and considering user experience when it comes to controls.

“The overarching goal is to achieve what traditional showrooms lack — character and context, and a connection to visitors on an emotional level,” Pott explains. “In order to accomplish this, we not only aim to bring to life an assortment of lighting applications across commercial and residential applications, but we also seek to keep the vignettes ‘fresh’ by rotating the lighting, art, furniture, and accessories on a quarterly basis. We will be varying the products on display from manufacturers currently installed and will integrate luminaires from manufacturers not currently shown. We will also have ‘manufacturer take-overs’ of the space, allowing each of them a time to have a larger presence in the house.”

The Adelaide Project

The typical visitors to the by-appointment-only Adelaide Project are members of the architecture & design specification community such as interior designers, architects, and lighting designers. “We also expect to see some end-users and engineers, as well as welcome contractors who are installing our luminaires on jobs they’re involved in,” Pott notes.

Furthermore, The Adelaide Project will serve as a collaborative presentation center, shared meeting and event space, and an active hub for learning, discovery, and inspiration. There are also plans for on-site industry events such as product introductions, professional seminars, mentorship sessions, lighting showcases, art shows, special dinners, and AIA-accredited presentations to be held throughout the year.

“I want to note that The Adelaide Project is also serving as an extension of not only our headquarters but also of our clients’; we are already seeing the space utilized by our ‘spec reps’ and clients alike as a ‘downtown office’ to work from,” Llaneza remarks.

“We, at TPL Lighting, aspire to be a catalyst for elevating the overall aesthetic of the city of Toronto,” adds Jennifer Pott, Co-Owner and Director/Brand & Customer Experience for TPL. “That means thinking beyond the spec, beyond the project, and considering how the customer experience can be elevated at every step along the journey to foster greater collaboration and transparency.”

The response thus far has been overwhelmingly positive. “The community response has exceeded every expectation we had,” Karolyn Pott says. “Clients have been very complimentary of the design of the space as well as the concept behind it. Our manufacturers have shared a lot of excitement for the investment we are making in them and in the Toronto design community. My favorite comment so far came from a client who stood in the parlor, looked around, and said, ‘It’s just so beautiful; I feel like I am in a dream.’” 

Llaneza concurs. “The reaction has been fantastic! We are all incredibly proud of The Adelaide Project, so every compliment and the level of excitement around this venture fuels our desire to keep going,” she comments. “We are proud of how the design community has received this new idea in Toronto and we are excited to keep on growing with The Adelaide Project.”