About Commerce Design Montréal

In 2015, Montréal was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Commerce Design Montréal awards, a Montréal initiative whose success has inspired similar contests over the past decade or so in fourteen different cities in Europe, Canada and the United States.

The sustained efforts invested in this program have helped show merchants, restaurant owners and the public the value that good design can add. Thanks to the contest, we’ve seen a remarkable improvement in the quality of businesses we visit and the experiences they offer. The City will again be rewarding those individuals to whom we owe this wonderful transformation. 

Once they have been announced, the award winners are the focus of a major promotional and media relations campaign. This boosts their public exposure and increases their business volume, and is what makes the Commerce Design Montréal awards unique. The winning designers and merchants also receive a trophy created by industrial designer Claude Maufette as well as special signs that they can display.


Commerce Design Montréal was created in 1995 with the aim of convincing Montréal merchants and restaurant owners of the benefits of investing in the design quality of their premises with the help of qualified professionals.

The intention of the awards remains the same – to foster the market for commercial design in Montréal as a way of:

  • enhancing the quality of the living environment and making the city more attractive
  • making businesses more competitive
  • boosting local demand for professional commercial design services

The aim is to encourage other merchants to follow suit, to convince them that good design can boost their businesses and to help revitalize and invigorate the city’s shopping streets.

The city invested considerable efforts from 1995 to 2004 to persuade Montréal merchants of the importance of design. An impact study conducted at that time showed that over the decade the program had concretely developed the commercial design market and achieved the desired spinoff effects. The quality promoted by the Commerce Design Montréal awards also proved to be a compelling argument for Montréal’s candidacy as a UNESCO City of Design, a designation obtained in 2006.

After ten successful years, it was decided that the program should be expanded and retargeted, to convince new players of the importance of enhancing design quality in the city.

In 2005, responsibility for expanding on the Commerce Design Montréal program was assigned to Créativité Montréal. The organization carried out three editions of the Créativité Montréal awards, from 2006 to 2008. For its part, the city continued to transfer its expertise and grant licences to other cities interested in adopting the original concept.

“Commerce Design” became an official Ville de Montréal trademark in 2014. By relaunching the program in 2015, Montréal hopes to continue inspiring other cities, expand the network and see the concept continue to evolve, as well as enjoying new benefits here in our city as a result of these shared experiences.

Main phases

Call for candidates: The goal is to attract some one hundred, highly varied participants – stores and restaurants of all kinds and sizes, located across the island of Montréal, that have been recently designed or redesigned with the help of a professional interior designer or architect.

Jury : The jury studies the submissions and photographs from all eligible entrants and chooses about forty businesses. Jury members then conduct a tour to visit and examine them in person before deciding on the winners. In the final round, the jury selects 20 winning businesses and designers to share the awards. Jury members consider various criteria, including the integration in the neighbourhood, since the selection is intended to reflect different commercial realities in Montréal, so that business owners thinking of investing in the design of their premises can be inspired by different award winners.

Awards : The Jury Prizes are awarded at a special evening attended by hundreds of guests.

Meetings with the designers: During a special weekend, members of the public are invited to check out the design of the 20 winning businesses while the designers are on hand to chat with visitors and clients about their creative process and ideas.

People’s Choice Award:  following the announcement of the Jury Prizes, everyone can vote on line or by ballot for their favourite from among the 20 winners. Once the voting period is over, the business that wins the most votes will be proclaimed the People’s Choice announced during a press conference. Everyone who votes is eligible for a draw to win some participation prizes. 

Frédéric-Metz Award (tribute)

Frédéric Metz was an esteemed teacher at the UQÀM design school and a founding member of the Centre de Design and the École supérieure de mode. He devoted more than 30 years of his life to graphic design and its professional practices. An outstanding pedagogue and communicator, he trained and inspired several generations of graphic designers.

In tribute to his memory and legacy, the Société des designers graphiques du Québec (SDGQ), UQÀM and the Bureau du design de la Ville de Montréal created the Frédéric-Metz Award. It recognizes one business (among the 20 winners of a Commerce Design Montréal award) that has shown special rigor, coherence and audacity in redesigning and renovating their interior space.

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