Sort — Design Books, Stationery and Home Goods

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Sort. Located in Kitsilano, Sort is a retail shop offering a carefully selected range of design products from books, magazines to studio stationery and home goods. Each item is selected with a focus on quality, aesthetics, honesty and a shared goal of improving for the everyday life. What drew me to the store was not only the amazing selection of curated design products but also the location. It is always refreshing to see when design and design culture pops up in areas outside the expected. Sort was founded by Alvin Kwan and Vince Lo partners and designers of Studio Faculty, a local graphic design and branding firm. Read some highlights below from my visit:

Could you please tell us a bit about yourselves, background on Studio Faculty, projects you work on and how you came about launching Sort?

Alvin and I both went to Emily Carr University for their design program and met while working on a number of group projects together. I think we recognized we shared a similar passion for design and so, shortly after graduating, we decided to open Faculty together in 2012. Throughout the last nine years, we’ve worked on an array of projects from publications, brand identities, packaging, type design to websites and photography direction. While our clients can be from fairly different industries, I think its their appreciation for design and the value it brings to a business that have made many of our projects truly enjoyable.

In 2016, Alvin and I went to Tokyo and Kyoto together to recharge and find inspiration. We visited numerous shops during the trip and we were really inspired by the curation of products. People from all walks of life visited the shops and we could see that, through the well-designed products, anyone in the neighbourhood could experience design in a tangible way. That experience was what started the idea for us to open SORT a year later in 2017; to share our love for design with the community through products and get a chance to have conversations about design with the community.

Choosing Kitsilano for your space? Traditionally, you would expect to see something like Sort in Gastown or on Main Street. We are really interested in your choice for location, what inspired you to choose this spot/neighbourhood?

As we were travelling through Japan, we noticed many of the shops we liked were located on small streets, tucked away in residential areas. Its counter-intuitive to what most retail stores look for to gain high traffic, but we found it to be a refreshing experience each time we stumbled upon a shop in an unexpected place. Our location on Stephens St. reminds us a lot of that experience. Kitsilano also has a slower pace of life that we appreciated.

Has the location defined your clientele? or do you find yourselves getting customers from everywhere?

We’ve really enjoyed meeting people who live in the area, many of them have been really happy to find our shop here as there aren’t many shops like ours in the neighbourhood. On weekends, we’ve also had customers from all over the city who make a trip out to visit the shop. The most surprising visits for us were from tourists who heard about our shop online and made a dedicated trip out to visit us. In this way, its always a surprise with each person that walks through the door and the conversations are always so life-giving.