This stunning apartment is a lesson in design from a distance

Situated in the Majestic, a historic apartment building on the Upper West Side, this renovation was to be a total “interior transplant” with all physical vestiges of the old design removed and re-imagined, including the existing windows and mechanical systems. The challenge? The renovation of these suites can be compared to arthroscopic surgery in that all of the alterations, relocations and connections must take place within the space itself, unseen by neighbours below who’s finished ceilings must not be disturbed, or above who’s plumbing and mechanical systems traverse through the suite. 

Interior Designer: David Hooper, ARIDO
Design Firm: Powell & Bonell
Photographer: John Bessler 

Luxe living room area in creams, browns and with cozy textured elements.

Working with a local architect and contractor the spaces and mechanical systems were photo documented, notated, and confirmed before the renovation process took place. Using this method, solutions to complicated routing and concealment were devised by the team. Wall hung toilets allowed for toilet rough-ins to be managed within walls rather than penetration of the slab. Plumbing and mechanical was concealed within bulkheads, decorative wall articulations, and millwork to visually justify what could not be moved. New lighting technology allowed for smaller tolerances for electrical, which subsequently allowed the ceiling height to be increased. Every millimeter of space was maximized on this project. 

TV screen emerges from special millwork element in this cream and brown living room.

In the design brief, the client required two complete bathrooms where only one had existed before. Another imperative was to capitalize on the windows,  the light, and the views, where previously small cut-up spaces compromised both. Reorienting these spaces, and opening up the galley kitchen via an interior window provided room for a guest and private bathroom, an enlarged kitchen, and an adjacent dry bar. The interior window can be open or concealed via mirrored folding screens which reflect the views when a more formal dining setting is desired. 

Furnishings are oriented toward the windows and a muted natural palette blends harmoniously with the cityscape beyond. A television is concealed in a custom cabinet to not distract from the expansive vistas beyond the confines of the suite.

The open layout with a minimum of contrasting finishes allows the owner and their guests to feel the luxury of space and invites them to enjoy a natural flow from one area to another from the moment one enters the suite. The final effect is a homage to the beauty and excitement of the New York skyline superimposed against a foreground of calm and warmth. Perfect for glamorous evenings and a refuge from the frenetic city beyond.

Distance is no obstacle for this interior design project

OpenText’s vision was to create a major European Hub at their Reading, UK premises. The project consolidates two sites and expands OpenText’s current occupancy from two to three floors, linking to the ground floor for greater brand presence, as well as greater access to natural light and exterior views (including the protected wetlands nearby) which contribute to employee health and wellbeing.

Interior Designer: Lisa Fulford-Roy, ARIDO
Design Team: Winnie Leung, ARIDO; Erin Armstrong, ARIDO; Mhay Trinidad, Intern, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK

Intended to accommodate more client interaction and a consistent employee experience, OpenText focused on expanding the reception area, adding an executive boardroom and lounge, designing a technology-enabled meeting complex and integrating employee social gathering space and food services.

The existing stair was reactivated to encourage employee activity and vertical circulation. The ground floor incorporates several informal meeting spaces to encourage collaboration away from the quieter work areas on the first and second floors. As a refresh of the first and second floor had been recently completed, existing elements were incorporated with the new workplace design.

By engaging local employee ambassadors through vision sessions, the design team identified and integrated regional nuances. As the project location is 5,600 km away and separated by a 5 hour time difference, collaboration with the local project team was key to the success of the project. The Toronto team worked closely with the local client to fully understand specific needs of local users, like benching stations which were included in the solution, maintaining consistency with the existing workspace.

The finishes in the new workspace and Town Hall infuse the space with energy, with more vibrant OpenText brand colours introduced through brand murals, accent wall colours and some furniture pieces. Client-facing areas are more sophisticated, with muted colour tones, warm wood finishes, copper and brass pendant fixtures and marble transaction tops on the reception desk.

Employee breakout space with white tables and high top counter with modern lamps hung overhead.

The existing spiral staircase connects the new space to the old, encouraging movement between the two. Teamwork was essential due to the project location; the team worked closely with our design-build counterparts to ensure the design vision was executed per our specifications.

This Silicon Valley office embodies the best in workplace design

Open Text, like many offices, has recently announced a shift to remote work due to COVID-19. However, the project team still completed the work for this space, and it’s worthwhile to share their approach.

The client for this project, Open Text believes that its values are key to its past and future success. As a Canadian company that was expanding to Silicon Valley, it did not want an office that mimicked their competitors’ ‘adult playground’ spaces. Instead, OpenText wanted this new office to embody values of variety, wellness and connection.

Interior Designer: Danielle Leon, ARIDO
Design Team: Jenna Walsh, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK
Photographer: Tom Arban, Emily Hagopian

The design team created a space where ninety-nine percent of open workstations have a view of the outdoors and seventy-nine percent situated within natural light. Additionally, the planning and architectural execution provides employees with easy access to refuel stops, hydration stations, and integrates biophilic design elements to boost employee wellness.

View of employee canteen with yellow cabinetry and glass wall with black trim.

Variety required that the OpenText team could work throughout the office in several distinct spaces. The design blends a communication stair, work cafe, lounge areas, traditional meeting rooms, scrum room, games room, focused workspaces with sit/stand desks, walk stations and tech-free recharge rooms. Open collaboration zones occur away from desk areas, to create privacy for focused work and comfort for collaboration.

The project team made a conscious decision to create a wide range of spaces that feel more like a hotel lobby or local cafe than a traditional corporate office. These fusion spaces have all the tools required for users to be productive, along with the added benefit of being emotionally comforting.

View from bottom of the stairs stone steps lead you up to a curving black staircase.

Lastly, OpenText’s history and its Canadian heritage are built into the office design. A perforated metal screen pattern displays the foundational software code on which Open Text was built. Meeting room names are a marriage of Canadian locations and code. The design team commissioned a world map made from keyboard keys to speak to Open Text development teams coding around the world. The office design keeps sight of Open Text’s Canadian roots, while they continue to grow worldwide.

This welcoming, airy space is conference central for a Toronto firm

It’s true … Better questions, yield better answers. When our professional services client asked us to develop a landmark facility that supports their lines of business, employee engagement and much needed event and client experience space, our minds, as designers, leapt to the countless ways their brand could be emphasized in the new space.

Interior Designer: Caitlin Turner, ARIDO; Lori Urwin, ARIDO

Design Team: Daniela Barbon, ARIDO; Meagan Buchanan, ARIDO; Susan Tienhaara, ARIDO; Kaitlin McElroy, ARIDO

Design Firm: HOK

Project Photographer: Karl Hipolito

Our designers worked intimately with the client to create a classic, yet timeless space where events, dinners and educational forums can take place and showcase the firm’s innovation, knowledge and value to its clients. Expansive city views, tech-enabled boardrooms, collaborative meeting areas and a vibrant event space can all be found on the penthouse floor of a Toronto high rise with spectacular 360-degree views of the city and beyond.

An adaptable space with flexible layout options allows for more intimate gatherings, open receptions and meetings.

Infused with daylight during the day and alluring mood lighting at night, the space accommodates all types of employee and client interactions. Plenty of gathering space for focused conversation was included to take advantage of the vistas, as well as provide additional breakout and quiet zones.

Space is used carefully in the suite of rooms, a long breakout space along the window accomodates a six seater high top, smaller cafe tables and lounge seating.

As the elevator doors open on the 40th floor, employees and guest are met with a highly polished and comfortable space, akin to a hotel venue. Prisms of light at entryways and across walls, clad in leather and metal screening, subtly reference the company’s logo. Twelve-foot, floor-to-ceiling windows complemented by clerestories and a glass ceiling invite daylight into the space and highlight the wood, leather, cool limestone and soft furnishings. Embracing a sense of light, air and space, the calm interiors are a backdrop for the stunning views of the city and lake beyond.

Employees at work in this bright glass panelled work space with pale limestone floors, pale teal floors and brathtaking views of Toronto.

This newly constituted workplace for this firm has simplified operations, decreasing overall conference costs and enhancing the organization’s stature amongst employees, clients and the competition.

The vibrancy of South African visual culture informs this Nando’s location

Every Nando’s location is unique, and with over 1,200 open around the world, it proves to be an exciting challenge for any designer to create a one-of-a-kind identity while maintaining the Nando’s soul and brand.

Interior Designer: Olga Evstifeeva, ARIDO

Design Firm: Stoa Design Collective

Photographer: Steve Tsai

This 70-seat Nando’s location is a celebration of South African colour and craft layered within an already charming building on Queen Street East. Stoa Design Collective wanted to create a laid-back atmosphere which would welcome beach goers and the close-knit community that makes up the Beach Village in Toronto.

This restaurant project was an exploration of colour and pattern blocking, along with interpretations of traditional African weaving techniques while reusing the raw identity of the envelope. The design team preserved the existing historical raw brick walls of the space as a backdrop to the overall design, layering on new tin ceilings with vibrant South African personality.

Local collaborations with artists and fabricators, as well as the incorporation of South African-sourced art and products, enabled us to create a space with authenticity at the forefront, where wood is wood and leather is leather, and most importantly, craftsmanship and detail is cherished.

To create multiple experiences in one space, the design team created distinct dining zones defined by furniture, lighting, and art – each offering something special. Leather tufted banquettes run along the exposed brick walls and are complemented by custom copper light fixtures and wall art respectively. Along the storefront, tall windows open to the busy street allowing for indoor/outdoor bistro style dining in summer months. Curved bench seating pods, each with a stunning South African-made beaded light fixture, occupy the central space, while a counter height round table with an oversized custom dome pendant hangs front of the open kitchen.

Playful African-inspired textiles, colours, and textures reinforce the vibrancy of South African visual culture while attaining a level of sophistication for the brand that is reminiscent of their European ventures. The carefully selected materiality and thoughtful planning throughout the restaurant creates a well-balanced aesthetic and flow and retains the eclectic and vibrant attitude of the brand.

Branded blue and Pac Man imagery take this supply chain start-up’s offices to the next level

For their redesign of this Toronto-founded supply chain start-up, the design team drew their core concept from visual themes in manufacturing.

Interior Designer: Joanne Chan, ARIDO

Design Team: Glenn Cheng, ARIDO

Design Firm: SDI Interior Design & Project Coordination

Photographer: Steve Tsai

Black stained concrete counters in the canteen and reception recall conveyor belts, while manufacturing plant aesthetics are referenced via concrete floors, open ceilings and architectural elements, some of which are treated in a signature Nulogy Blue. Linear movement is emphasized by sets of wood slats suspended on the ceiling, and angled blue glass partitions along the corridors.

The design team met the need for transparency and multiple meeting spaces by placing these sites along the outer corridors. Nulogy’s teams are highly creative and united, so the design team encouraged each group to brand their own spaces by designing decals as a team, to be stuck on the windows of each studio. Their identity as packaging people aka ‘Pac Men’ inspired the design team to reference the iconic game, which becomes a playful motif repeated throughout the floors, complete with his white marbles.

A vast corner space serves as canteen and townhall area, bordered by bleacher-style seating. The space is well equipped with A/V solutions and custom designed acoustic ceiling panels that contrast with the Nulogy blue of the ceiling and ductwork.

While the central reception area is an efficient space with signage and guest seating in one, glimpses of Nulogy’s culture can be seen from the reception, while a number of breakout spaces are available throughout the space, including lightbulb inspired nooks; perfect for the next bright idea.

The medicine wheel is a motif in the design of this Health Centre

The Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre is a hospital built in Sioux Lookout in 2012, and serves a population spread over a large geographical area. Health Centre clients come from 29 First Nations communities spread across Northern Ontario, as well as Sioux Lookout, where there is a non‐Indigenous population with its own rich culture.

Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre
Interior Designer: Taeko Rhodes, ARIDO
Design Team: Ena Kenny, ARIDO
Design Firm: Stantec Architecture
Project Joint Venture: Douglas Cardinal, Douglas Cardinal Architect Inc
Project Photographer: Richard Johnson

Menoyawin is an Anishinaabe word that connotes health, wellness, well-being and individual spiritual, mental, emotional and physical wholeness.

With a First Nations associate architect guiding the design team, many important aspects of Indigenous culture were incorporated in the planning and design of the facility. The principal concept behind the master plan was a circular path, 350 meters in diameter, cut through the forest and providing access to each building on the campus.

This path is a representation of the Medicine Wheel, a concept shared by many Indigenous cultures, that signifies the importance of appreciation and respecting the interconnectedness and interrelatedness of all things.

Within that framework, the objective of the interior design of the facility was to create an integrated healing environment, that would blend First Nations culture with the surrounding environment. Symbols of the primordial elements, earth, fire, air and water, are represented throughout the whole centre.

Tall timber columns and beams welcome everyone into the health centre with a large octagonal skylight at the centre.

The main gathering space is a heavy timber structure, oriented east, towards sunrise. Sunlight fills the space through a large octagonal skylight, and below, a central ‘fireplace’ built in tempered glass, lit with LEDs, and circled by red pipestone. A traditional sunburst pattern, created in epoxy terrazzo circles the pipestone on the ground, while a black granite waterfall next to the recalls an element that is vital to all living things, and provides a soft burbling sound.

A Ceremonial Room was built for First Nations ceremonies and healing and repeats the important wheel shape, with an actual earth firepit, bordered by natural stone and walls clad in cedar.

Cedar lines the walls and floors of the octagonal ceremonial room with an earth firepit at its centre.

The canoe‐shaped Ambulatory Lobby is built in structural timber with a clerestory window, flooding the space with natural light, while underfoot, a flooring pattern suggests the movement of water.

Throughout the inpatient wing, long walls of windows provide views to a series of landscaped courtyards, further reducing the institutional image. The circular pattern of the Medicine Wheel is also present in the cubicle curtains and floor pattern throughout the hospital as a metaphor of healing.

Landscaped interior courtyard with winding paved paths, and rock and evergreen gardens.

By incorporating symbols from Indigenous culture like the Medicine Wheel and the four elements into the design, the hospital resonates with patients and the greater community as a healing place. The architecture and the interior design successfully bridge the gaps between Indigenous and non‐native cultures.

1 SLMHC Website

How a public library was transformed for the 21st century

Hamilton Public Library’s (HPL) full scope included renovations to four different spaces, totalling more than 28, 000 square feet.

Interior Designer: Dora Lomax, ARIDO
Design Team: Karin Vandenberg, ARIDO; Pete VandenArend, Intern, ARIDO
Design Firm: McCallum Sather Architects Inc.
Photographer: Dan Banko

The HPL wanted to serve their community’s 21st century needs, but was held back by a dated setting and limited budget. Major priorities were more digital literacy services, like a lab and training programs, space that would accommodate group and solo study, and community gathering space for multiple music events throughout the year.

Library floor and seating area with patterned carpet and low yellow seating.

Placing new program space on the perimeter walls gave more room for the concert space, while moveable glass walls left sightlines open, while keeping equipment secure. With so many glass walls, the city views were uninterrupted, however, this left few places to add colour and interest to the space. A carpet that used hexagonal tiles piqued the interest of the city, and HPL found additional resources to inject more colour in the space.
The new space features the Discovery Hub with a Maker Space, digital media room, music room, green room, video production space, computer training room, reading spaces, multi-purpose room, art gallery and place to host the beloved ‘Music in the Round’ events.

The integrated design comfortably accommodates a hive of activity, down to the specially-made carpet designed in a pattern of a motherboard, which visually reinforces the library’s intent for this flexible, creative hub. The multi-functional space balances acoustical demands with mechanical and air flow requirements, and now comfortably supports private, semi-private or collaborative activity.

Existing furniture was reconfigured with new pieces to create a new computer training area. The moveable glass walls can be reconfigured based on the HPL’s needs, and a pull-down reel system accommodates electrical connectivity throughout the space.
Once it opened in May 2016, it quickly became a hub of activity, adding significant value to the community through access to space and equipment otherwise out of reach.

Quantum mechanics inspires the redesign of this U of T Lab

The first and second floors of the McLennan Physical Laboratories were alienating, institutional spaces, harshly lit with overhead fluorescents. In the classrooms, students sat crowded along long tables; the setup was so inefficient the department was turning away 100 students from a popular course each term, due to lack of space. The space needed to introduce the greater university population to the physics community and showcase science education in the best possible way.

Interior Designer: Valerie Gow, ARIDO
Design Firm: Gow Hastings Architects
Photographer: Tom Arban

The interior design team responded with a complete reimagining of the space, incorporating the latest in collaborative technologies, styled in a sleek new visual identity that, topically, draws from quantum physics. In crafting its visual identity, the design team was inspired by the Davisson-Germer’s experiment, which confirmed that particles of matter can have wave-like properties – a major advancement in the development of quantum mechanics.

In its new form, the McLennan Physical Laboratories project becomes a hive of activity, and a site for greater student engagement. Visually, the vivid colour palette, in a previously monochromatic environment, has become strong brand marker for the department.

At the heart of the new space is the Physics Cafe – a vibrant work/study area with a multi-use video wall, full-height writable wall surfaces, and a felt-wrapped column for posting notices. A feature ceiling below the existing exposed concrete gives the space a more intimate feel. Oversized ottomans can be moved into clusters or rolled away for breakout discussions. Acoustic drywall, rubber flooring, and plaster ceiling tiles all dampen sound for a quieter study environment. Vertical bands of transparent coloured film add a liveliness to the space, while providing privacy for students at work; and are inspired by the particle wave interference of the Davisson-Germer experiment.

New teaching labs facilitate collaborative learning with informal breakout spaces, smart boards, and writable wall surfaces – all encouraging student interaction. A foldable partition allows a classroom to expand and contract as needed, while Corian surfaces ensure durability. The waiting and study spaces that line the corridors now feature seating alcoves for individual students or small groups. Plug-in points for charging devices help make this a good spot to stay and work; pin boards and well-lit chalkboards encourage the sharing of ideas and information.

Ultra cool offices for Vice Toronto HQ

Interior Designer: Allen Chan
Design Firm: DesignAgency
Photographer: Adrien Williams

A rambunctious, audacious and youthful energy is the spirit of the Vice brand, and they sought an office space that reflected these qualities. Attuned to the needs of its client, the design team infused a decommissioned factory with the informal, relaxed vibe of a classic cigar lounge, then stealthily layered technology, lighting, and sound equipment throughout.

Upon entry, you are immersed in the vivid world of the Vice brand. The industrial lobby captures, through giant panes of steel-framed glass, the hive of activity throughout. Unexpected touches, like the neon sign, give a taste of Vice’s sense of quirky irreverence. That irreverence intensifies immediately beyond the lobby, where visitors step into a fully stocked saloon.

Adjacent to the bar, the Bear Room is both a meeting area and the signature interview space, where sound equipment and lighting can be optimized for filming. The room is elevated a foot from the rest of the office for both poetic and practical reasons. The podium makes visitors feel important; the added lift helps with on-camera sightlines.

Most of the office is open concept, with employees at reconfigurable desks with optional privacy screens. Lighting, augmented by giant east facing windows, can be adjusted for filming. Walnut-and-glass-clad cubes float down one side of the office, separating the kitchen from the main space. The separation instills a sense of intimacy for the eating area, useful because it doubles as a set for on-camera cooking demos.

Other intimate break-out areas include boardrooms lit with custom lighting that carries the theme of stealthily integrated tech: the cable channels are cast into the concrete floor and discretely run into the tables. Editing suites are completely sealed from the office bustle, while a screening room provides a space for unwinding and watching the results of the office’s frenetic creativity.