Inspiration was locally-sourced for this luxurious downtown Toronto condominium

Situated at the intersection of Toronto’s landmark financial and heritage St. Lawrence Market districts, 88 Scott was an opportunity to create a standout, luxury downtown residence. 

Interior Designer: Kelly Cray, ARIDO

Design Team: Neil Jonsohn, ARIDO; Christianne Barbuto, Intern, ARIDO

Design Firm: U31

Photographer: Jac Jacobson

Standing proud at 58-storeys, this condominium is anything but meek. The towering neoclassical-style structure demanded an interior as impressive as its presence at the corner of Scott and Wellington. The design was largely guided by our client’s directive to take a ‘Canadian Moderne’ approach which involved looking to Canada’s natural landscape for inspiration. The result is an urban oasis that’s rooted in references to nature. 

The experience begins in the 1,500 square foot hotel-style lobby where dark and light coexist to create a dramatic statement. We established a warm and engaging entrance by combining textured and polished stone backgrounds with walnut-paneled walls and screens. Guests are welcomed by Euro-inspired seating that encourages lounging and a double-sided “Ocean Black” slate fireplace that provides a cozy spot for escaping the cold. The fireplace serves as the focal point of the space and overall, contributes to the grand, sophisticated flavour of the lobby.

With the executive demographic target purchaser in mind, we designed a 1,800 square foot business area adjacent to the lobby. This zone contains private workstations, a boardroom, and a lounge for the convenience of residents.

An extensive amenity program was the key to cultivating a luxury lifestyle for 88 Scott’s residents. The amenities are located across the building’s sixth and 46th and 47th split levels (spanning 10,400 square feet total) and include everything from wellness-oriented offerings to entertainment-geared experiences. The sixth floor consists of a fitness centre and a social area featuring a sophisticated party room complete with a kitchen and bar. Unique art pieces animate key areas of the party room: a geometric wood ‘stack’ installation emphasizes the grand fireplace while hand-crafted coffee tables complement lounge seating arrangements.

In the 46th and 47th split level ‘Sky Lounge’ and private dining room, we created a vibrant urban atmosphere by incorporating large windows that frame views of Toronto. By day, the space is bright and airy, while by night, a moodier atmosphere emerges as skyscrapers and Lake Ontario glimmer in the distance. The ‘Sky Lounge’ interior features a combination of raw textures (seen in the wood floors and stone fireplace surround) against more glamorous, fabricated finishes (seen in the mirrored ceiling and lush upholstery fabrics). 

One of the main challenges of designing 88 Scott was delivering a high-end yet cost-effective result. For instance, the lobby chandelier, which was originally quoted from a European manufacturer, had to be substituted by a local supplier to accommodate budgetary constraints. Fortunately, the final result achieved the sumptuousness we had envisioned. 

Challenges continued as the building’s heritage designation required us to leave architectural elements, like windows, untouched. Since we couldn’t alter the imperfect window openings and sill heights, we added white sheer drapery throughout the lobby to disguise the irregularities. 

Since the project’s completion, residents have been taking full advantage of the condominium’s many offerings. The building’s lobby is much more than a spot to wait for an Uber: residents regularly spend time in this space catching up on emails and meeting up with friends before they head out on the town.

This project was awarded an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2019.

This survivor-led project inspired a new phase of ARIDO’s charitable work

In 2018, ARIDO worked with BridgeNorth as our charity partner for the 2018-19 ROI Project. BridgeNorth exists to address and prevent the unique problems faced by survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. BridgeNorth provides programs to assist with their departure and transition from the sex industry by offering direct service to women, girls, and families affected by the sex industry.

Human trafficking is unfortunately widespread in Canada, with Ontario acting as a hub for the rest of the country, where two-thirds of human trafficking violations taking place here. The average age of young women who are lured and groomed into the industry is 13 years old and 93% of survivors are Canadians.

This project focused on the improvement and refresh of the head office located in York Region. This project was hugely moving and inspiring for the association and every person involved. Unlike previous ROI projects, the design team balanced the creation of a secure environment for clients attempting to exit a trafficked situation and the creation of a more secure space for existing clients. Details as minute as the furniture selection and placement were carefully considered by the design team, to try and prevent triggering of clients. New lockers let clients and staff feel agency and ownership of the space, as well as security of their belongings.

The addition of a shower allows incoming clients to bathe in a dignified and secure environment, something survivors of human trafficking are denied daily, while the creation of a fully functional kitchen provides a space to host cooking classes and offer new life skills to clients, helping them find secure employment outside of the sex industry.

“As designers, our job is to assist clients in creating a space for them that changes or helps the way they work and go to market. In this case, it has been an incredible experience to see and understand what design could do to impact a human experience and to directly impact the clients for the betterment of their lives. Aesthetics assist in the “feel” of the space, but the functionality of the space allows BridgeNorth the tools to reach many more people and help them with their next steps. We have been honoured to work on this project and be witness to this positive change.” Lead Designer, Lucia De Biasio, ARIDO, LDB Design Inc.

“This project has left a lasting impact upon ARIDO, our members, and our industry partners. It has led the ARIDO to shift our ROI objectives from improving an interior environment for a charitable organization to creating greater social impact by means of the Interior Design community. We are now focusing our efforts on leveraging our community and resources to provide a platform for the voices of trafficked Ontarians and raise awareness of this growing crime.” ARIDO Executive Director, Sharon Portelli.

The project would have not been possible without the generous support of ROI partners: Flat Iron Building Group Inc., Brigholme Interiors Group, Mohawk Group and Office Source + SCI Interiors

It was also supported by: 3form, Three H Furniture Systems, AMJ Campbell, Benjamin Moore, Camino Systems, Caplan’s Appliances, CaTech, Choice Office Installations, Daltile, Division9 Commercial Flooring, DPI-Construction, Doner Turrin Inc. EurOptimum, Four Seasons Drywall, Inc., G&P Millwork, Group Lacasse, Haworth, The HIDI Group, HiTek Window Film Solutions, Honeycomb Engineering, Horizon Mechanical Contractors, Impact Electrical & Mechanical Ltd, Keilhauer, Levey Industries Inc., LightArt, Liteline Corporation, Panolam Surface Systems, Paul DaCunha Architect Inc., PowerOp Electrical Contractors, Salex, Shoreway Flooring, Spec Furniture, Trillium Group, POI Business Interiors, Steelcase, Ultimate Decor Ltd.

ARIDO would like to express our deepest gratitude to the support of these companies and their staff, as well as the following people who were part of making the project happen.

Design Team
Lucia De Biasio, LDB Design Inc
Sakshi Kapoor, LDB Design Inc
Leah Watling, LDB Design Inc
Sojung Yoo, LDB Design Inc
Paul Da Cunha, Paul Da Cunha Architects

Fundraising and Donor Procurement Team
Mahesh Babooram, Office Source
Dayna Bradley, Brigholme
Lisa Gushue, Mohawk
Chelsea Powell, Flat Iron
Susan Quinn, Mohawk

Project and Construction Management
Carolyn Brown, DPI Construction Management
Elvio Di Simone, DPI Construction Management
Kevin Minnes, DPI Construction Management

Pre-Programming
Donna Dolan, Kearns Mancini Architects
Jordan Fang, ARIDO Intern Director
Karin Karak, K2 Designworks

Photography
Yianni Tong

Resources about Human Trafficking:
Human trafficking services and supports (Ontario.ca)

Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-833-900-1010
Hotline Website

This government office stands out, instead of blending in

Gone are the days of formulaic government offices, with uninspired gray surroundings for employees, and thank goodness for that!

Using an activity-based design methodology, the LWG design team developed four floors of light-filled space designed within the auspices of the Government of Canada Workplace Guidelines. Using affordable materials in innovative ways allowed us to deliver an economical space that is not short on design details.

Baltic birch plywood figures prominently throughout the space, along with key pops of colour. This space provides a menu of options to support the work that takes place throughout a typical day, including areas for heads-down tasks to spaces for active, boisterous collaboration.

The LWG Design Team for this project included Marc Letellier, ARIDO; Rachel Burdick, ARIDO and Ashley Lepine, Intern, ARIDO.

A desert oasis in Scottsdale

This private residence is situated on prime five-acre property in one of Scottsdale’s premier desert estate communities. Surrounded by mountains to the north, east and west, and vast views of central Scottsdale and Phoenix to the south, the original home was one of the earliest built in this heavily architecturally-controlled community.

Interior Designer: Wayne Swadron, ARIDO
Design Firm: Wayne Swadron Interiors Limited
Project Photographer: Roehner + Ryan

The home’s architectural styling was ‘Tuscan’ in character, although the interior finishes had been updated just prior to the client’s acquiring the property. The design team reconfigured and re-modelled the existing structure and landscape into a contemporary desert oasis while respecting strict local architectural regulations.

With grand design gestures commensurate in scale to the sprawling (largely one storey) structure, the encouragement of the clients, and the monumental contributions of a fabulous local team, the designers achieved all their goals of creating a home replete with contemporary luxury, incorporating design features that promote indoor/outdoor living, while simultaneously respecting the realities of the extreme desert environment.

9 tips for Resilient Restaurants

2020 has taught us all a lot of tough lessons—even ones we couldn’t have possibly prepared for. When it comes to restaurant owners, one of the biggest takeaways from 2020 is the importance of having the flexibility to adapt to situations as they arise. Many restaurants throughout the industry have shown a great ability to do exactly this by incorporating resilient design into their restaurant layouts. During a time that has made it tough for even the most stable businesses to stay afloat, restaurants have surprised us all with their creativity and drive. And in return, communities have come together to help support these businesses.

Over the past year we’ve seen restaurants adapt in order to succeed, by doing things like:

  • Switching to a delivery/takeout-centric model.
  • Creating outdoor dining spaces
  • Making changes to their interior design to meet guidelines and promote safety
  • Finding creative ways to sustain their revenues and business
  • In this post, we outline some restaurant interior design tips that will help you create a beautiful space, while still giving the flexibility to adapt and change depending on what’s thrown your way.

1) Create flexible seating & displays

This one is pretty standard, so it’s likely you’re already doing this if your restaurant layout allows for it! A great way to create a resilient interior design for your restaurant is to incorporate flexible seating and displays. The need for this flexibility has been highlighted more than usual with social distancing being a requirement in restaurants and commercial spaces for the foreseeable future, however, it’s important to make sure this is a part of your restaurant’s design at all times.

Flexible seating options of four top tables and bar seating in a bright, plant-filled space.

When design is done well it should have the flexibility to change and adapt to accommodate whatever new situations arise.

2) Make designated areas for takeout and delivery

Image of exterior cafe takeout window open with a white fabric awning above.
Source: Katrín Björk domino.com

With takeout and delivery currently on the rise, the restaurant industry is seeing the importance of having a designated area for the pickup of these types of orders. Yes, this will help with the current need for social distancing, but that’s not all—this is a form of resilient design that is applicable at all times. It can help to reduce crowding at the front of your restaurant while people wait for their orders, and it also makes for an overall better experience for your patient customers.

If your restaurant layout allows for it, one of the best options is creating an actual take-out window like the one pictured. Turn a regular window into a space where people can easily pick up their online orders or make a quick purchase as they’re passing by. It can even be used by outdoor diners as a spot to place orders to speed up the ordering process.

3) Make use of moveable partitions or moveable glass dividers

The use of moveable glass dividers is a great way to ensure social distancing and give peace of mind to both customers and employees of the restaurant. They give a clear separation between diners without making them feel boxed in. The ability to move these glass walls /partitions is key as it will allow for flexibility—if tables need to be pushed together to seat a large family, the barriers can be moved to fit around the new seating arrangement. A great way to achieve this flexibility is to install tracks or wheels at the bottom of the glass dividers for ease of movement.

Glass divider partitions in a retail space.
Source: Satkartar Glass

And who says partitions or dividers need to be boring? For example, you can be creative by using fluted or reeded glass to create more of an architectural statement. In addition to being beautiful, these glass partitions create privacy for diners while still giving a more open feeling by allowing light in.

4) Be creative with your restaurant’s empty space

Implementing social distancing in your restaurant doesn’t have to be boring. Try doing something interesting instead of simply having six feet of empty space between tables. This can be as simple as putting a plant or a prop in between tables, or something more out of the box such as having mannequins seated in between. If you’re looking for more creative ideas and strategies for your space, hiring an interior designer will definitely help! Just look at this fun and super cute example of restaurant Maison Saigon and their stuffed pandas.

5) Add a display for impulse buy items at the entrance/waiting area

Shelves of take home items and prepared food in a restaurant.

With limitations on the amount of people allowed in a restaurant at a given time, along with the increasing amount of people resorting to takeout, it’s likely that people will be waiting at the entrance of your restaurant for longer than usual. Why not take advantage of this by creating a display to show impulse items such as take home meal kits or sauces, gift cards, branded merchandise, home and kitchen goods, snacks or treats.

If you’re looking for more creative ideas and strategies for your space, hiring an interior designer will definitely help! The ideas are endless and you can really have fun with this one.

6) Hand out free samples or coffee for those waiting in line

We’ve all experienced this before—the waiting game for one of our favourite restaurants. With capacity restrictions and social distancing in place, many restaurants, coffee shops, boulangeries and alike are experiencing long wait times. One way to keep those loyal customers in line is to hand out free samples.

Heck, you can even offer your restaurant guests a cup of coffee or tea while they wait outside—this will be especially appreciated during Toronto’s cold winters! Not only does this help them enjoy their time in line, but it also may assist in line drop off (keeping people around for longer than they’d usually like to wait).

7) Utilize social media to get traffic to your store

Hand holding iPhone about to take image of food.
Source: Paprica Burgers in Brazil

Social media is often where people go to learn more about your business. Well, that, and Google. One way to draw more foot traffic to your restaurant is by hosting flash deals, giveaways, and even fun window display shows or activities. For example, you can say the first 15 people at your restaurant on a given day will get something free. This can also help to spread the word about your business, grow your social media presence, and in turn increase your profits.

8) Infuse touches of the story around the store

Unless you’re a local mom and pop shop that has already grown roots in your community, most restaurants need to stand out with their interior design. This doesn’t mean every restaurant needs to have wacky colors on the walls, but it does mean that your interior design should be intentional and reflect your unique brand.

Remember, the design of your restaurant has to tell a compelling story. The best way to improve your restaurant’s interior is by infusing your story into the various elements, finishes, spaces and create moments of awe.

9) Provide pods or dedicated zones for “private” nooks

Dining booths with small laters and bench seating.
Source: Restaurant Fabbrica in Bergen

A great solution for implementing social distancing in a restaurant setting is to provide pods, or create “private” nooks for diners to eat. Not only will this separate diners from one another to help stop the spread but it will also provide a more intimate dining experience for them to enjoy. Yes, creating pods, or “private” nooks can help with the current need for social distancing, but this type of resilient design is beneficial in many other ways as well. This type of seating is a great way to create some privacy, and promote a more intimate dining experience. Below is obviously an exaggerated example of what pods can look like in a restaurant, but you can still have fun with your layout to make it feel more safe and cozy for your visitors.

2020 has been a tough year for everyone, but Covid-19 has been especially difficult on the restaurant industry. Through all this, one thing that has been amazing to see is the resiliency that restaurant owners and workers have shown, and their ability to adapt to a difficult situation.

By incorporating some of the above tips into your restaurant’s interior design, you’ll be able to safely welcome restaurant-goers in style, no matter what life throws at you. If you’re based in the Toronto GTA and are looking for some restaurant design assistance, we’re here to help!

Sansa Interiors was born out of a passion to create spaces that are comfortable, functional, and inspiring. We take a holistic approach, which enables us to study and explore each interior space differently. Every client is unique, and every design should be unique, too. If you’re interested in learning more, send me a message, and let’s find a way to help improve your space.

This home is a marriage of minimalism and tradition

An elegant residence located in Mississauga made for an interesting project for our design team. Our clients had different views about how their home should look and feel, one wanted a modern and minimalist space, while the other was set on more traditional styles that reflected their current home. Our clients needed to feel at home in their new space, so we aimed to find the common ground between their different styles as it was paramount to the success of this project. 

Interior Designer: Dana Kosich, ARIDO 

Design Firm: Hiatus Design Ltd 

Design Team: Kelly Breiter, Intern, ARIDO Project 

Photographer: Dana Kosich, Eric Malinski

The overall design for the project was influenced by the minimal exterior created by the architect and setting the tone for the design vocabulary in the interior. This compelled us to keep ornamentation to a minimum and respect the architecture while maintaining a warm and inviting atmosphere. In an effort to appease the client’s differing views, it was important to strike a balance between minimalism and tradition.

A significant interior element included a staircase located in a prominent area by the architect.  We needed the stair to be sculptural and worthy of its position in the home. Following, the lighting had to be handled with the utmost care to acknowledge the minimal design approach. Decorative lighting was kept to a minimum and one of the goals was to have the surfaces glow so that the effect of the light was appreciated without seeing the fixture itself.

Basic functional requirements like the front hall closet, elevator, and powder room door were elevated to an artful experience. The foyer amenities were completely concealed within walls paneled with warm wood. A floating stair provided a sense of weightlessness and became a focal point, while our use of ceiling coves and recesses concealed the sources of illumination, so surfaces appeared to glow. 

We designed a welcoming, open kitchen with a long island and integrated table for large gatherings. This was accompanied by a balanced use of wood and stone that created a sense of warmth. Large expanses of windows and lack of wall surfaces made it difficult to find a TV location, so a custom automated TV cabinet was designed using a motorized lift. We reworked the plans to include separate bedrooms, closets, and en-suites as this was important to the clients. This created smaller spaces which made detailing even more important to the success of the project. 

To allow for large parties, the lower-level recreation/theatre room was outfitted with another kitchen. A dual-sided fireplace separates the games room from the home theatre, which reinforces a sense of coziness. The retractable movie screen was carefully situated between the mechanized fold-away doors. This clever placement allowed the screen to serve the room and retract when not in use, preserving the views. The projector along with dinnerware was strategically hidden in a wall of sculptural millwork. Custom-designed furniture provides ample seating for guests while the wine room invites you in behind a glass wall and a showcased wine display.

Lastly, in a home of mostly glass and very little wall, it was difficult to locate basic necessities, so our challenge was to pull it all together thoughtfully. This magnificent residence started with separated views, but we pulled together a beautiful marriage of minimalism and tradition.

This project was also recognized with an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2019.

Wine Cellars & Wine Tasting Rooms – Coming Of Age

In wine there is truth and in wine cellars there are many truths.  

Wine collecting and having the “right” bottle on hand, requires a special space of its own and more homeowners are installing wine rooms in new and existing homes.  With today’s technology, refrigeration, and modern materials, wine can be stored in almost any location.  However, this ancient beverage still requires tender loving care.

Wine Is Fussy – The Basics 

Wine “breathes” through the cork and ages in the process. Too much oxygen makes the wine bitter.  The pace of this breathing is faster at higher temperatures and slower at lower temperatures.  Fluctuations in temperature and humidity accelerate this aging process.  

Wine Storage – The Basics

Wine requires a cool, dark space with higher humidity than the average living space.  Wine does not like noise or vibrations from any source.  

It doesn’t like any temperature extremes.  45F to 65F degrees are the temperature for serving wine.  55F degrees is the ideal storing temperature for long-term storage, regardless of your wine style.  Wine storage rooms come in two types:  passive and active.

Passive Wine Cellars such as caves, basements, closets are naturally cooler and only receive indirect sunlight.  They minimize swings in temperature and damage to the wine. 

Active (Cooled) Wine Cellars are fully climate controlled and can be set to the perfect storage temperature and humidity level that ensures ideal conditions.  They are more flexible and can fit into any large, small or odd space in your home. 

Modern Design Trends

  • Glass enclosures allow you to show off your wine collection and can be built as tall or wide as you want. The choice of tempered glass used is extremely important. The insulation value should maximize the refrigeration, humidification benefits, and UV protection that is required for wine rooms that are in direct contact with sunlight. Etched or frosted glass are decorative options.
  • Integrating wine cellar design into your space for that ‘wow’ factor.  Placing wine storage in living areas, man caves or kitchens, allows you and your guests to engage with your wine collection and show off your expensive wine bottles. 
  • Label-forward, displays the label art facing out.  It creates an intimate interactive experience with the user and the bottle of wine. 
  • Metal and acrylic wine racking.  These materials are gaining popularity in contemporary wine cellar design.  They provide the same quality for storage as wood and can be much more cost effective.
  • Bridging old & new – Combining wood with metal or acrylic allows for more flexibility in project design that is less stuffy and ornate and more contemporary and inviting.

Modern Design And Construction Considerations

  • Use LED lights and UV film for glass enclosures.  
  • No vibrating wall speakers and no noisy air conditioners nearby.  Insulate your mechanical air ducts or use a ductless air conditioner. 
  • Vent equipment heat outside the storage area.
  • Storing a large number of bottles requires a reinforced wall behind. Many choose plywood backing for wall installation. 
  • Make sure you have proper wall insulation, a vapour barrier, and moisture resistant, green board walls.
  • Easy access to electricity.
  • Flooring is to be moisture resistant, consider the insulation value of the floor and materials.

Return On Your Investment (ROI)

A wine cellar is a high-end investment, and in some homes, it is a must-have upgrade.  With an average bottle price of $95.00, it pays to design your investment so that it can add value to your home.

Galileo tells us that:  “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”  Then together, sunlight and water hold the truth in wine.  Take good care of your truth.

Updating a basement? 5 things you should consider

Gone are the days of ‘low’ unfinished basements that reek of mold and mildew.  Only used as a place to do laundry, access storage, sports gear, and Christmas decorations.

Now that fixer-uppers are going for a million or more, spending $100,000 to $150,000 doesn’t sound unreasonable to reclaim existing space and is a lot cheaper than doing an addition, and basements are easier than attics.

In upscale neighbourhoods, with historical designation and height restrictions, contractors are now digging deep to create spaces three or four levels below ground, so that they can house bowling alleys, Olympic size pools – you name it – just dig it.  Called “iceberg” architecture, what you see above ground is just the tip of what lies below.

For regular folks, this newfound space, becomes a fantasy space.  When all the necessary rooms for daily living are accounted for above ground, the basement becomes a space where your imagination can run wild.  

That’s when I dubbed basements “The Lower Level Retreat”.  They’re not the ‘base’ of the house but rather another level for living, that happens to be below the ground line.  With a shift in naming this space comes a shift in thinking about the space and its functions.

These spaces can house entertainment centers with large 50” to 60” televisions, sizes that would normally dominate a regular living space.  This allows the guys to watch their favourite sports and game to their heart’s content.

For the practically minded, extra storage space is always welcome and if you’re going to have a laundry room, then why not add a little panache? The ultimate home office can double up as a guest room when grandma and grandpa come to visit.

Other leisure lair spaces include wine cellars, spa retreat that doubles as a doggie grooming centre with heated floors, therapeutic pools for athletic injuries, music studios and …. a village with a large scale train model for the kid in all of us. The possibilities are endless.

So, how do you design a livable, lovable space that feels warm and cozy?

Let’s start with the basics:

Planning: 

  • Open plan seems to work best.  And, if you need to enclose spaces for privacy then make the walls moveable, to enclose or open a space as required.

Building:

  • Ideally, a finished eight foot ceiling suits everyone best. Remember that recessed pot lights, flooring and under-floor infrastructure reduces available height.
  • Make sure to address structural issues and all possible moisture issues. Hire a contractor who knows all about basements.
  • I prefer to add radiant floor heat.  If not the whole floor then, at minimum, in the washroom spa area.  When your tootsies are warm, then the rest of you will feel warm, cozy and pampered.

Lighting:

  • The trick is to find light fixtures and bulbs that spread light in all directions, filling surfaces with light and minimizing harsh shadows.  Helping decrease the cave-like effect.
  • Choose ‘warm’ colour temperature of 2700K or 3000K.  Bluish light of 4000K is cool and will feel fridge-like and not somewhere you’d like to hang-out, especially in the winter.
  • Use different sources of lighting throughout the space such as lamps and LED strips in built-in shelving.   

Decor and Design:

  • Raise sofas and other large pieces of furniture ‘off’ the floor.  Your eye travels underneath furniture on raised legs, keeping the look light and airy.  
  • Use lighter colours and textures as a focal point for emphasis and drama.
  • Don’t place a television over a fireplace.  Together they are visually overwhelming. 

Flooring:

  • Make sure to use a modular flooring system.  Should water damage occur, pieces can be popped out of place and new product installed easily.  Large rolled goods such as carpet or linoleum should be avoided.  When wet, mold and mildew occur. 
  • I’ve had a lot of success with carpet tile over plywood.  Carpet tile acts as an insulator, removable, easily cleaned, and easily re-installed.
  • Your best options for flooring are porcelain tile, marble, vinyl, or laminate planks. Engineered hardwood is debatable, but plank flooring is your best bet. 

Fixing up the basement, I mean lower level, will add much happiness to you and your home. 

What is your Lower Level dream?

This office has multiple neighbourhoods, each with its own personality

Tandia Financial moved from three cramped floors to a single daylight-flooded level featuring 18 foot ceilings. With the entire organization now on one floor we had to come up with a way of structuring the space to provide simple wayfinding and an intuitive sense of order.

Interior Designer: Joanne Chan, ARIDO
Design Firm: SDI Design Inc
Project Photographer: Scott Norsworthy Photography

Meeting and work space is adjacent to a special meeting area built to look like a cabin in the office space.

By clustering hard-walled spaces at the centre we divided the space into four neighbourhood quadrants. Each neighbourhood has a central common space break-out area with a unique visual identity. And each of these “squares” is further differentiated by having an individual ambience based on one of the four seasons. The public facing facilities are organized around the town’s “Piazza”, and flanked by community spaces such a training rooms, café, reception, boardroom and visitor meeting rooms, etc.

Team members:
Interior Design: SDI Design: Joanne Chan, Glenn Cheng, Bruce Freeman, Rubia Fossari
Project Manager: Cresa Toronto_ May Chaaya
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: Iannuziello & Associates
Structural Engineers: Dorlan Engineering
Architect: Paradigm Architects
Constructor: Flat Iron Building Group

Nothing strange about the design for this java joint

Strange Love Coffee is a growing Toronto-based coffee shop focusing on providing a unique coffee experience by utilizing specialized treated water and one of a kind roasts which are hand picked by a Coffee Sommelier. The intent was to create a space that communicates Strange Love’s obsession with quality coffee experiences in a setting that helps drive revenue. Our client leased a humble corner in a busy section of Toronto’s PATH Network, off the main corridor sandwiched between dental offices. 

Interior Designer: Tatiana Soldatova, ARIDO
Design Firm: Syllable Inc. 
Photographer: Revelateur Studio

The site was awkwardly shaped and hidden from view to the people passing by during their busy commutes to and from work. The two key challenges were to fit a complex coffee production program within a triangular 275 square foot space, as well as drive passerby attention to an easily overlooked spot. We were required to integrate a 26’ counter space into an 8’ storefront where five staff would seamlessly produce 1,500 coffees per week. We chose not to fight the existing site and insert a traditional linear counter. Instead, the team used the shape of the site to inform the design. 

The counter follows the main feature wall and bends inward to extend counter space –this approach maximizes linear workspace and, functionally, breaks apart the baristas from cashiers while creating additional space for patrons to order. The cafe’s production line was carefully studied and barista equipment was arranged to minimize travel and movement for all staff. This counter was also mounted on hidden wheels to allow easy access for workers. 

The second challenge was drawing customers, corporate professionals with stressful jobs, to the cafe. Located below a main staircase with a staid wall, it’s easy for potential patrons to miss. 

Our team diligently built a positive relationship with the landlord to convince them to permit a floor-to-ceiling sign by the staircase wall to entice patrons. A loud and inviting custom wallpaper adorned with tropical plants introduced a biophilic experience into a small space with a restricted budget, and Strange Love Coffee became a tropical retreat within the PATH.  

As a sophisticated re-engineered mineral water is one of the secret ingredients behind Strange Love Coffee’s award winning recipe, we celebrated the filtration system by creating an illuminated display that showcases the raw industrial beauty of the system itself. 

The shop has a weekly rotation of custom roasted coffee, which is placed at the front counter where the Baristas can proudly introduce the different roasts. Additional products on open display atop custom wood shelving with brass hardware are available for purchase.

From the bold material finishes, a flexible counter which snakes through the awkward site, water filtration and produce showcases, we created a space that puts the client’s story on display and entices passersby to stop and smell the roasts.