Hiring a qualified Interior Designer for a project is an important step, no matter the size or budget, whether you are renovating an existing space or building a new one.
ARIDO Registered Interior Designers in Ontario have extensive training in designing interior spaces. They are skilled and experienced through a rigorous path that includes a four-year degree in Interior Design, supervised work experience under a qualified Interior Designer, and the successful completion of the North American Interior Design exam, NCIDQ. This is similar to other professions like Architects, Lawyers, and Engineers.
Interior Design is about much more than just the way a space looks. Through the interior design process, a qualified Interior Designer can help you realize your goals and make the interior environment functional, accessible, and attractive. They also ensure that the design of your space complies with all regulatory and legal requirements such as Ontario Building Code (OBC) and accessibility standards.
A qualified Interior Designer ensure building permits are submitted correctly, and the design is implemented properly by a contractor or construction team.
Interior Designers specialize in one or more sectors, from residential to corporate/commercial interiors, stores and restaurants, schools, public spaces and more. If you’re in an interior space in the province, especially a public one, you can bet an Interior Designer was involved.
What is a Registered Interior Designer?
The Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO) is the professional association representing Interior Designers in Ontario. Only registered members of ARIDO are authorized to use the designation ARIDO and the title Interior Designer in the province. All Registered Members are required to:
Comply with the Ontario government’s qualification and registration requirements under the Ontario Building Code
Maintain professional liability insurance
Participate in ongoing regular professional development
If your project with another individual takes a turn for the worse, you may not have much recourse. However if your project with a Registered Interior Designer runs into issues, you can rely on their expertise to address them, or alter the design so contractors and construction teams can build it properly.
The Association also has a Complaints & Discipline process for members which addresses these issues. It is rare for these processes to be called upon, in 2019, there were no active Complaints or Discipline cases open.
Find a Registered Interior Designer in your neighbourhood on the ARIDO Directory.
The new Broadview Hotel has come a long way from its former lives as a factory, a boarding house and then “Jilly’s” – an infamous seedy nightclub. Now, the landmark in Toronto’s east end is a chic 58-room boutique hotel boasting a restaurant, cafe, an indoor/outdoor event space, and a rooftop bar.
The building’s historic architecture, its varied uses over time, and the surrounding neighbourhood character inspired the design team to explore and reference its different phases and styles. They mixed styles and periods to reinforce the eclectic layers built up over time, using an array of bespoke finishes, furniture, and lighting, mixed with a pastiche of industrial, vintage and contemporary pieces. Furniture and lighting by Canadian designers including Coolican & Company, Anony, were incorporated along with custom art from a local curator.
A magnet for both guests and neighbours, the airy ground-floor cafe invites guests to sink into leather banquettes or gather at the white marble and brass bar under a halo of pink neon – an installation by the son of the creator of the original Jilly’s sign. Custom-designed wallpaper replicates designs found during demolition, and an “eroded” floor mixing wood and tile nod to the building’s history. The main-floor restaurant has the richness of a classic tavern, with surprising elements like drapery with lemurs smoking hookah pipes.
The guest rooms, the most spirited spaces of all, mix Victorian-style floral wallpaper and upholstery with deep blue ceilings, red velvet drapery, brass lighting, and even a brass rail to create a playful, modern boudoir ambience.
The hotel’s treasure is found in the building’s tower, where guests find an intimate space for private dinners. The exposed brick and wood beams of the tower’s vaulted ceiling contrast with wood dining tables, leather chairs, vintage mirrors and a symphony of chandeliers – a magical space unlike any other in the city.
The hotel has won numerous awards and the seventh-floor restaurant/bar has been voted one of the top patios in Canada, delighting guests with its stunning 360-degree views. With the redesign, the hotel is now a key catalyst in Toronto’s eastward expansion.
The brand new head office of Chicken Farmers of Canada, located in the nation’s capital, is a work environment quite atypical of the usual office vista. As leaders of the sustainable Canadian chicken industry, CFC works closely with farmers throughout the country to manage environmentally responsible farming that in return ensures the production of quality trusted protein. While continuously implementing the research and development of food safety standards and ethical animal care programs, these leaders strive to maintain a transparent alliance of Canadian Chicken Farmers.
A recurring presence of ash wood is carried throughout the space: reclaimed wood planks clad feature walls and coffered ceilings, linear wood lights are suspended above workstations, while low ash panels connect each work area. The reclaimed wood is carried into the kitchen area where ash shelves are housed on industrial black plumbing pipes, one of the many black accents that occurs in the office.
Deep hues of forest green, rusty orange and gold throughout emit a moody essence. Warm textures and materials effectively contrast the client’s desire for industrial like features, such as the organically etched carpet that is accented by a concrete-look luxury vinyl tile. To enhance industrial vibes, faux red brick panelling suggests the presence of shared exposed brick party walls, appearing weathered and rustic.
Each collaboration space and touch down area is complete with enticing accent lighting: oversized acoustic drums are suspended over sitting areas to muffle chatter; large black and gold pendants hover over the communal island; the organic swag light chandelier in the kitchen’s wooden nook provides an intimate glow above its company below.
Hints of chicken memorabilia are strategically placed throughout the space to reiterate the rural farm motifs: baby chicks appear on faded wallpaper running from floor to ceiling, a local barn in monochrome film overlays the large boardroom glass, and among others, branded chicken throw pillows are placed throughout.
As you walk through the new Chicken Farmers coop, you are filled with a peculiar charm, as this is no typical office, but an environment that lives and breathes the passion of their work.
Getting started with a renovation, whether it’s for a home or a commercial project, can be daunting. It can feel like there’s too much advice out there, and not enough information. To minimize risk and save money in the long run, get started with a Registered Interior Designer from the start.
Take your time
To ensure your project is a success, take time to carefully review and explore your options. Think about what your priorities are for the project, your needs, budget, timeline, and style. When you have a list of what you need, you can reach out to qualified Interior Designers for your project.
A Registered Interior Designer will assist in managing your project right from the start and will explain the design process, their work schedule, and ask you in-depth questions about your needs. Before hiring and working with an Interior Designer, you should feel comfortable with the individual and their approach to the project.
An important piece of a successful project is a focus on quality in the selection process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their past projects, technical competence, methodology etc. Often, an interior designer will bring their portfolio, or send you links to some of their previous projects and will always be pleased to share about their experience and past work.
Consider your needs
As a client, you can be open with an interior designer about what your needs are. It’s okay to have a finished project in mind, the interior designer is there to bring your vision to life in a way that considers your needs and budget. You have a list of features you want or don’t want in a finished project.
Quality-based selection involves comparing candidates based on such criteria as:
Have you worked on similar projects in the past? Tell me about one or two.
Tell me about some of your recent projects.
Do you work with a team? Will you be my main contact for the entirety of the project?
Do you know contractors or construction teams? Do you have preferred contractors?
How do you plan out a project? What do you think is a reasonable timeline for this project?
Other factors like an interior designer’s creativity, vision or innovation can be important factors for a client.
All Registered Interior Designers must know the Ontario Building Code (OBC), an interior designer’s understanding of the Code can come in handy when your project has very clear needs and hazards.
Asking for references of past clients is also a great way to gain a better understanding of a qualified Interior Designer’s work. Questions like, Were you happy with the final project? Was a timeline given to you accurate? Would you work with the Interior Designer again?
Taking some time to do this groundwork before signing a contract and spending money on a project can prevent headaches and added costs down the line.
Get it in writing
A Registered Interior Designer will always set out the work to be completed in a written contract and make sure you understand the details before signing and starting work. Take the time to review the contract and language before signing anything, and you can even have a lawyer review it as well. Avoid individuals who insist on working with cash or a handshake agreement, as you have no method of recourse if the project hits a snag.
You can always find a list of qualified Interior Designers across Ontario with the BLOG//ARIDO Directory.
This pandemic will be considered a defining moment in our history and will forever change our view of “work”. Designers and manufacturers are responding with new ideas and products for how each of us is “going back to work”. But when the dust finally settles, and we emerge from this experience, what can we learn from this experience? And how is this going to change the “future of work”?
IDS or the Interior Design Show spoke to SDI’s Owner and Principal Joanne Chan, ARIDO about her thoughts on the “future of work” and how “human connection” will forever change in the workplace.
IDS: How are you doing? And how are you adapted to working from home?
SDI: I absolutely hate it! When preparing design and discussing ideas I work best in person. I like to sketch things over drawings and pull people together to chat etc. I really miss the studio and working with my team.
IDS: What do you think has been the biggest impact from everyone working at home?
SDI: Our biggest lesson learned from this that we are very resilient as a society. What we found was most companies were pleasantly surprised of how adaptive their teams are and realizing this is an opportunity to refine the meaning of work. It is still a huge learning curve for them with adapting to new technology and a new way to work and communicate. But with all the bells and whistle of Zoom video chats and Slack messengers in the world, we still crave and missed the basics of human connection.
IDS: But even without the end in sight, we all know one day all of us will have to go back to work. There is load of webinars and publications providing recommendations of how we will go back to work. Do you mind sharing your perspective?
In the short term, companies are focused on safety of their team. In conjunction with government guidelines, they are putting policies, procedures, and solutions in place to make the workplace safe. Many of our clients have engaged us in doing so. But inside the studio, we are more interested in the long-term impact of work.
IDS: So Joanne, what are some of the short term actions employers are taking?
SDI: I would categorize them into a few categories:
Social Distancing and Remote work. The benchmark of work space per person has decreased gradually in recent years with the open workplace and need of collaboration space. To maintain the 2m social distancing radius, many of our clients have placed their workforce in various shifts for the short term. This temporary measure can solve the immediate social distancing requirements, but it does not address why we must work in the office in the first place.
Integrated Technology Platforms. Work from home can be challenging if the company does not have a proper technology solution. It is as simple as connecting with your teammates, access internal files to collaboration with others. A key element is to have a strong integrated technology environment to support mobile, collaborative, and remote work. This may require companies to revisit their VPN access, teleconferencing technologies, and Cloud storage abilities.
Monitoring & Limiting External Access. Although some reports stated that the coronavirus can be non-symptomatic, the best way to determine an employee may be sick is still through temperature monitoring. Like airports, companies can place reasonable sized temperature scanners at entry points, in conjunction with their access control systems. Many existing security control systems already can track “entry access”. With an integrated system, the two devices can now act as a “scan & trace” system as well. Limiting external access will also be key in creating a “trusted” workplace. Couriers, unwanted visitors, and even clients and guests will need to be addressed. Like delivery at your home, “curb-side” delivery may be the future of courier. Allowing packages to be dropped off at a secured area, limiting person-to-person signatures.
Sanitation, touchless & anti bacterial environments. Making sure your building’s cleaning staff understands the importance of thorough sanitation. Companies may have to engage additional resources to address concerns of daily cleaning and wipe downs. To combat climate change, many buildings already have installed sophisticated base building systems (BAS) to allow motion sensor lighting controls and fixtures in their space. But beyond basic control systems, we should now consider touchless garbage disposal units, anti-porous surfaces, mold resistance drywall, copper hardware and eliminating material that may retain bacteria. Designers and specifiers will need to select material that are both resistant and beautiful.
Mechanical upgrades. Most users of commercial building may not have influence over the specifications of the base building mechanical system. This will be a conversation between client and landlord on how to work together to allow more fresh air into the space, allowing more humidity in the air so air particles (and germs) will fall onto horizontal surfaces for cleaning and ensuring existing filters are replaced more frequently.
IDS: You say this can only be short term solutions, what do think should be the longer-term approach?
SDI: As designers and architects I think we are blessed to have the ability to look at the world with empathy. Not coming from the position of fear but rather the position of hope. My initial thought is that we should have a holistic approach in solving the future of work
In the past we have asked, “how do we work” numerous times, but this will be first time we are all asking, and rephrasing the questions to “what is the purpose of the office?” Studies have shown how an intelligently crafted workplace can not only increase productivity but [employee] happiness. Designers were asked to make “workplace as a destination”, the place to be. We now need to re-examine the roles, relationship, and responsibility of the workplace. If we can shift our thinking and re-imagine the future workplace to be purpose focused, it can still be dynamic, creative and energy-charged.
IDS: Can you elaborate on that?
SDI: Hm, I guess the question is to define what purpose focus means to all of us and what matters to us most. Given the choice, some people may say they would love to work from home for the near future. But for many of us, including me, we see the workplace as a place to create and foster new ideas, learn and celebrate. Our task is to distill those definitions from our clients, layering flexibility and technology integration into their workplace. With social distancing in mind, designers can now have the freedom to equip spaces with the exact tools for the specific function to get the job done. These work areas can now vary in size, height, and aesthetics to suit. This does not change the core of creating an engaging workplace, but ensures we are at work with a purpose.
IDS: What is the most important thing you have learn from this experience?
SDI: The one most important thing I have learned from this is that we should focus on what matters most, the people around us. We should be grateful and celebrate what we can create and achieve if we do it together.
This post originally appeared on IDS Toronto’s blog, it has been re-posted with permission.
DMZ, or Digital Media Zone is a start-up accelerator at Ryerson University, where founders can get support for the next steps with their burgeoning businesses.
Interior Designer: Siavash Mahdieh, ARIDO
Design Firm: PULSINELLI
Photographer: Steve Tsai
Designed to engage the vibrant, young community of founders, who also need a formal space to host potential customers, investors, and experts, the space balances these two needs in the design.
The gray wall panelling and minimal aesthetic captures the raw spirit of the start-up culture but is attractive and comfortable for business-minded guests. There are several intimate seating options for guests in the high-traffic reception area which can serve the start-ups in the building.
A special visual emblem welcomes guests to the DMZ, and also becomes an area where guests can take photos and turn them into shareable moments for social media.
Across from the elevators, we created a large dark wood canopy with an open woven pattern to define the reception and seating area. Dark wood vinyl on the floor under the canopy, contrasts the soft white floor in the rest of the space, and demarcates this cozy nook.
On the left side of the reception, the waiting area is furnished with colourful seatbelt chairs and concrete coffee tables to further convey the playful and raw nature of the space.
The space lacks a window, or other natural light source, so the design team added diffused halo lighting around the gray wood wall panelling that wraps the walls. It provides a sense of lightness and visually connects the different areas.
Movement is added with the reflections created by the oversized, mirrored 3D DMZ signage that is positioned in the main seating area.
An interactive digital bulletin board welcomes guests off the elevators, and is housed in a sculptural wood wall. The natural oak, cut in geometric stripes, also wraps the reception desk, which links the two elements together.
A secondary lounge area was created beside the corridor that accesses the cafeteria. The wall in the area is cladd with custom upholstered panels to improve the acoustic quality in the space.
To encourage guests to take selfies to share on social media, we introduced the “Toronto Gallery”, a series of white painted 3D letters mounted on the wall panels. The letters spelling Toronto are sliced in half and positioned to be read from the reception area.
The vibrant space reflects the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the start-ups and creates a strong identity for DMZ.
As Canada’s leading entrepreneurial and transactional business law firm, Wildeboer Dellelce LLP is committed to being a pioneering force for legal practice innovation. Their ambitious culture is what has driven the design team to create a dynamic, contemporary space. The trappings of a typical law firm, dark finishes and little to no collaborative space, were transformed into a modern layout with a colourful palette that exceeded their expectations. The new space was designed for efficiency, allowing each floor to serve multiple purposes while creating seamless traffic flow and connection between lawyers and clients.
A key design challenge was renovating the full three floors to transform the current office into a progressive space that can adapt to the user needs, provide meeting spaces, alternate workplaces, and event space while respecting a set budget. Number one on the client’s list of needs was the pool table that stands proudly in the reception space. It symbolizes the vibrant and charismatic culture that the company has championed from the start, and is visible to anyone who enters the space. A variety of furniture solutions were planned for each floor to encourage employees to move into different working environments throughout the day.
The design team worked on this project from the real estate review process. With that early start, decided to remain in their current office but renovate the space. All three floors were renovated, which modernized the office into a playful yet sophisticated space. The 8th floor is client-facing, dedicated to meetings and events, and designed to make a lasting impression. When arriving at reception, guests are greeted by a bright open space filled with light and texture, created by the sharp angles of the reception desk which contrasts the soft colour palette.
Private meeting rooms surrounded by glazing flank both sides of reception, creating seamless transparency on the 8th floor. Ceiling treatments provide variety and animation of the event space, as well as an illuminated light wall that runs along the length of the reception. The 9th and 10th floors are connected by an existing sculpture-like staircase, which allows lawyers to connect seamlessly and privately. When visitors take their first steps off the elevator they are instantly greeted by an energetic servery designed to encourage conversation. These floors are primarily used for partner and clerk offices, as well as administrative support. Both floors are consistent with the radiant and transparent look and feel of the overall space.
Interior Designer: Valerie Gow, ARIDO Design Firm: Gow Hastings Architects with Two Row Architects Project Photographer: Tom Arban
Odeyto, the new home for the First Peoples @ Seneca Newnham Campus, is intended to provide a safe and recognizable space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike while attending Seneca College. Often, Indigenous students have left their home communities for the first time and travelled to unknown urban landscapes to pursue their education. The design of Odeyto (Anishinaabe word for ‘good journey’) reflects and acknowledges this. It was created as a home away from home, a place where students can gather, not only to practice their traditions, but also to find new friendships and family while away from their communities.
Conceptually, the addition and renovation was inspired by the image of a canoe pulling up to a dock — making a stop at Seneca College to gather knowledge before continuing on life’s journey. The addition’s canoe-like form is “docked” alongside the contrasting rigid lines of the existing precast concrete building. As the only building on campus with an organic curvilinear design, the “canoe” has a distinctive presence, announcing its importance through its form.
Striking when viewed from the outside, the building’s curves create a warm, womb-like interior. The structure alludes to the Haudenasaunee longhouse, a traditional reference further reinforced by glass entrances on the east and west, where two red doors, aligned to the summer solstice, honour the missing and murdered indigenous women. The building incorporates aspects of traditional knowledge drawn from many other Indigenous cultures across Turtle Island.
In alignment with sunrise ceremonies common to many Indigenous Nations, the angle of the “canoe” lines up with the rising sun on the summer solstice — an acknowledgement of rebirth, spring, and our connection to the earth. From an architectural point of view, this simple but meaningful move breaks away from the colonial grid that dominates on Seneca’s Newnham Campus.
Wood predominates in the interior, reinforcing the analogy to a canoe. The interior of the building consists of two distinct spaces: The former classroom has been remodeled into a warmly lit work area with a low ceiling, where students can use computers, work with tutors, or speak with a counsellor. Beyond this, in the new purpose-built addition, the main lounge is a generous space for gatherings. Its high, curved ceiling is supported by glue-laminated rib structures. Their connections are visibly expressed, in celebration of the craft and beauty of the building’s construction — much as a birch bark canoe’s beauty is manifested through its construction, not decoration. Thin and light, the 28 glue-laminated ribs resemble the ribs of a canoe or mammal. The number is a nod to the number of days in one cycle of the moon.
The renovation part of this project offers a bridge between the rigours of post-secondary education and the familiarity of culture. It’s a space that provides the necessities of academic life — counsellors’ offices, study space, a place to print — and, at the same time, a safe harbour, a “dock” where a canoe can stay a while.
The design team also worked with advisors from Two Row Architects, a native-owned architecture firm which focuses on “guiding the realignment of mainstream ways of thinking on their journey towards Indigenous ways of knowing, being, design and architecture.“
Gow Hastings says, “Design features influenced by this knowledge include the structure’s directionality, alignment with celestial cycles, cultural observances, value of materials, tactility, craft, expression of structure, and extension into the surrounding landscape.”
After operating for 35 years out of an industrial office space, it was time for a functional improvement. DRE Industries acquired a new two storey commercial unit which we had the opportunity to build out.
Our client’s business focus is supplying waterproofing products & other materials for the construction industry. They needed a professional space that they could bring clients into, to present and educate on materials, a sample library, and a space that was overall positive and fun to work in.
The new space features ten-foot ceilings and industrial style fenestration. Our goal was to create a functional, simple, sophisticated and fun space. With our client, we decided on a polished concrete floor with light aggregate in the main areas and used a beautiful lush carpet tile in the offices and boardroom. The entire space was painted white with hits of black accents.
We were able to feature one of our client’s supplier’s material in the space by using Terrazzo on the kitchen counters and backsplash – this added a chance to present their product line in a unique and not so obvious way.
Our approach of using a neutral palette and textural finishes allowed the architectural elements of the space to speak for themselves. Result? A not-so-boring office, a professional and functional space that evokes a calm and positive energy.
Open for lunch service, the existing restaurant at the Gardiner Museum was relatively unknown, attracting mostly elderly patrons. Upon entry, spectacular city views were overshadowed by a cold, uninviting aesthetic, and the narrative of Canada’s National Museum of Ceramics was lost. Many people knew the space for its quality event service; with the ability to clear the space and create a spectacular setup for events with off-site rentals.
The new restaurant partner – The Food Dudes – provided a clear mandate – create a space that can easily convert between daytime restaurant service and evening events, and engage a new demographic while keeping the existing patronage happy.
Our goal was to provide the flexibility of multi-purpose with the aesthetic of a fixed-in-place restaurant.
The new design reconnects the space to the Museum’s focus while paying respect to the building’s architectural features. This meaningful concept influenced all aspects of the restaurant from the food and plating, to the branding and name. Clay itself is at the root of every detail, with inspiration taken from its properties and the process of clay making.
The minerals of clay tell the colour story, with rich terracotta hues, stoneware neutrals, and vibrant porcelain whites. Turned wood furniture and organic forms make subtle reference to the artifacts and tooling typically found inside a ceramist’s studio.
Perhaps the most compelling addition is the custom bar. The front bar is clad entirely in durable commercial grade porcelain slabs, while the back bar integrates display opportunities to further extend the museum’s shop offerings – both a sales tool and an aesthetic choice. Smart planning decisions were implemented to create an optimal layout for the restaurant that could easily adapt to events. Modularity and compactness were key considerations due to the strict one-hour conversion timeframe. Existing storage was limited so locking storage solutions were integrated into the bar millwork.
Furniture and custom elements were strategically selected for optimization of storage space and efficiency of the teardown process. Folding dividers and mobile planters act to provide privacy and delineation within the space without the permanence of fixed partitions. Soft seating in vibrant hues define the bar/lounge area, while a more muted palette is used in the open dining area.
All chairs stack on dollies, tables are flip-top with nesting legs, and the host and services stations are mobile on casters. These pieces adapt well for use during cocktail parties, lectures, and wedding receptions. It was important to have the functionality of multipurpose furniture, without the mundane aesthetic. The end result is a remarkably versatile space that does not compromise on design.