GTA Scholarship Awarded in 2021

The GTA Chapter is delighted to announce we have awarded its annual ‘Your Brand Identity’ scholarship for 2021. Three students from ARIDO-recognized programs have been recognized as part of this year’s scholarship.

1st Place – Carly Board
2nd Place – Morgan Hodasy
3rd Place – Monica Beckett

On behalf of the Chapter, I would like to congratulate Carly, Morgan, and Monica. I would also like to thank everyone who entered in 2021, we sincerely appreciate how much work was put into each application.

Anna Kowalczyk
GTA Chapter President 2021/22

The Power of Colour Session 3 Postponed

Power of Colour Session 3 Postponed

The ARIDO Power of Colour: Being Black in Design panel series was the first of a series of conversations around the barriers and issues in the industry with a mandate of raising potential avenues for change. The series was hosted and moderated by Chandran Fernando of Matrix360 and led by several practicing designers who were both members and non-members of ARIDO.

Following the first two sessions, the panelists regrouped with ARIDO leadership and the Co-Chairs of ARIDO’s Equity, Diversity, Accessibility, and Advancement Committee (EDAA) committee to discuss next steps.

The first two sessions within this series have been successful in bringing important experiences and issues to the forefront. We have learned over the past year that as we continue to move forward moments of reflection and readjustment can ensure that ARIDO’s commitment to advancing the work in this area is positive and results in impactful change. This is one such moment where we will pause to further reflect on the first two sessions in greater detail and as a result, the third session scheduled to occur on September 21 will be postponed to a later date.

The panel series has brought to light that solutions and actions towards real change can be accelerated within EDAA’s Committee work as it continues its mandate. ARIDO leadership and the EDAA Co-Chairs have received several recommendations from the panelists that focus on actionable next steps.

ARIDO will present the recommendations received from the panelists to the EDAA Committee who continue to lead as the current gatekeepers of all organizational matters related to Equity, Diversity, Accessibility, and Advancement within the organization. The recommendations will be reviewed by the Committee against their mandate and the ARIDO Board’s Strategic Plan; specifically, the targets and strategies identified in the Equity, Diversity, Accessibility, and Advancement Pillar.

The EDAA Committee has also received the Phase One recommendations report from Matrix360 and will assess the recommendations submitted by the panelists against the identified next steps in this area of work for ARIDO.
Within the coming days, ARIDO will be releasing the results of the DIVeIN Survey and the Phase One Report. The survey was released to the membership in late March to help ARIDO understand member’s perspectives, attitudes, and experiences as well as identifying member demographics and key trends to help build best practices with diversity, equity, accessibility, and advancement in mind. The Phase One Report outlines a series of recommended next steps for ARIDO in response to the survey results and organizational training carried out to date.

We recommend all members review these documents and welcome any feedback or comments from the membership at large. Comments can be sent directly to Sharon Portelli, Executive Director, and Registrar at

We will also report back to the membership plans to continue the work resulting from this panel series once the EDAA Committee has reviewed and identified appropriate next steps.

Awards Gala Date Changed to Wednesday, October 6th

The Government of Canada recently passed legislation making September 30th a new federal statutory holiday called National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This new federal holiday was proposed in 2015 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada which called on the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish a statutory holiday dedicated to recognizing and reflecting on the legacy of residential schools and honour Survivors, their families, and communities.

This day of recognition will be a vital component of the reconciliation process in Canada. As such, ARIDO has decided to move the date of the 2021 Awards Gala as we believe holding a celebratory event on this day would no longer be suitable and would not support our continued commitment to advancing Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity within our community.

We would like to inform our members and community that ARIDO has decided to move the Awards Gala date from September 30th to Wednesday, October 6th. Moving the Awards Gala date will provide space for members and the wider design community to engage individually in recognition, reflection, and service to act on the Calls to Action listed in the report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Should you have any questions, please contact Sharon Portelli, Executive Director and Registrar at
Information on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is here.

ARIDO Member Spotlight: Meet Golnar Raissi-Dehkordi, ARIDO

Golnar Raissi-Dekhordi

Welcome to the ARIDO Member Spotlight! The Member Spotlight will feature a different ARIDO member each month in order to connect members together and feature the diversity and richness amongst the membership. A big thank you to Golnar for agreeing to be the first member featured in this new series.

Meet Board Member and Committee Chair Golnar Raissi-Dehkordi, she is currently an Interior Designer at Mayhew and Chair of both the Communications Committee and Equity, Diversity, Accessibility, and Advancement Committee.

She was the host of Session 1 of The Power of Colour: Being Black in Design and the January event for Interns Adapting to Change and works primarily in the workplace design sector.

How long have you been a member of ARIDO? I have been an ARIDO member since 2010, so I joined on my first year of Interior Design at Humber as a student member.

We talk a lot about “The Path” at ARIDO, how did you get on the path to the association and develop your interest in Interior Design as a career? I knew I wanted to be an interior designer when I applied to the program at Humber. The path became clearer when someone from ARIDO showed up at one of our town halls and explained the Path to becoming an Interior Designer.

I am sure so many of us didn’t know that we cannot call ourselves Interior designers by just graduating from an Interior design program. I joined ARIDO right at that town hall to become an ARIDO Student. Once I graduated from the program, I had the opportunity to go back to the firm I completed my co-op with, Mayhew, and become an ARIDO Intern.

I was constantly presented with opportunities to keep improving and building upon the skills I learned at school and those in the workforce.

Golnar Raissi-Dehkordi

In 2016 I had completed my supervised hours under the supervision of multiple Registered Interior Designers at Mayhew and felt ready to take the challenge of completing the 3-part NCIDQ examination. I dedicated a year to study and prepare for the exams and finally passed in 2017 and became a Registered Interior Designer. It was such a relief to know that I can now call myself an Interior Designer with my membership status and the required insurance.

How would you describe your local Interior Design community? The interior design community is so big, and small at the same time. Big in the sense that it includes so many different areas of practices within design not limited to retail, residential, commercial, industrial, etc. but also furniture, fixturing, sales, and project management. The industry is also very small or niche because no matter where you might be today, tomorrow you will always cross paths with a former student, mentor, colleague, or vendor.

Design professionals can sometimes specialize in one aspect of the process i.e. accessibility/building code, FF&E etc. Do you have a specialty? I would say workplace design has been taking more of my focus which includes accessibility, building code, FF&E, etc. However, I still consult with my mentors and my colleagues such as Senior Interior Designers, BCIN holders, Furniture application Specialists, Project Managers, etc daily to ensure I can provide the service to the best of my ability, and I am continuously learning.

You are part of the Communications Committee and Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Advancement committee, what made you want to get involved with the Association? Is this your first time on an ARIDO committee? The first time I got involved with a committee was in 2016 when I joined the Intern Committee as an Intern. In 2020, I joined the Communications Committee, and shortly after that when the Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Advancement committee was formed I decided to be part of this venture. I personally believe in the power of service and giving back to our communities so when I heard the call, I decided to join and be an active agent of change. I am grateful to Mayhew for understanding and supporting me with my volunteerism for ARIDO.

Which past project was a career highlight and why? Every project I have worked on in the past has taught me something new, but if I must pick and choose one, it would be a higher education project I completed under the supervision of my Senior Interior Designer. This project allowed me to push far beyond my limits and it really made me feel like I made a leap in understanding the design process from start to finish, especially in relation to the Contract Administration phase of the project, as this is not necessarily taught in school.

What upcoming innovation will dramatically impact the industry in the next five years? I think from the workplace design perspective we’ll be seeing a shift in how people work. Forced by circumstances around COVID, we have adapted to work differently. From this point on we’ll see more innovative products, technology, and behavior guided by leadership and strategies that can bring people choice and options on how they work, where they work, when they work, etc. It is fascinating!

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the association or profession? I can think of a couple of pressing issues; in my opinion, one would be the recognition of our profession. We are taking on way too much liability for not being recognized and regulated by the government.

Secondly, diversity and representation within our community. I am happy that the association is taking steps towards addressing these issues and I hope to see positive change emerging in the next few years.

What advice would you give to students or emerging professionals at the start of their careers? Find joy and passion in what you do, be open-minded when presented with opportunities, participate and speak up; be active and take charge of your career.

Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work? Oh, that’s an easy one. I would say our Managing Director of Design, Harpreet Singh. She is my friend, my mentor and anytime I’m stuck on projects I know I can count on her to help me see a way out. Sometimes her advice sounds so simple and easy that I question myself: Why didn’t I think of that?

What book are you reading now? I am reading The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins and Originals by Adam Grant.

What trend do you hope makes a comeback? (Design related or otherwise) I hope getting together with people and socializing face to face in groups will come back soon. I really miss that.

A big thank you to Golnar for agreeing to be the first member featured in this new series. The Member Spotlight will feature a different member each month. Know someone who should be featured? Get in touch with . See you next month!

Event Invitation – The Power of Colour: Being Black in Design

The Power of Colour Being Black in Design Panel Discussion
The Power of Colour Being Black in Design Panel Discussion

ARIDO’s Equity, Diversity, Accessibility, and Advancement Committee is pleased to announce the panel series, The Power of Colour: Being Black in Design.

It is the first of a series of exploratory town hall conversations led by our diverse members to share their experiences and perspectives working in the interior design field. The three-part series will address the barriers, challenges, and issues in the industry experienced by Black professionals and newcomers. Further, the series will identify tangible actions on how to begin a journey to address, cultivate, and build better opportunities that welcome and advance the richness of diversity. 

Session 1: Diversity in Interior Design and the Education System
The first of two sessions will focus on the lack of diversity in the Interior Design profession and vendor pools, as well as the challenges and barriers Black professionals face in the educational system, and when accessing professional networks and employment opportunities in the industry.

How can the Interior Design education system better support Black professionals experiencing financial scarcity? How can structures be established to better integrate, support, and advance Black professionals?

July 14, 2021 – 4:30 PM – 6 PM – 1.5 hours

Panelists: Alyssa Griffith (Designs by Alyssa) and Robin Fraser, ARIDO (Fraser Design Studio)

Moderator: Chandran Fernando, Matrix360

Welcome and Introductions: Golnar Raissi-Dehkordi, ARIDO (Mayhew)

This session is eligible for 1.5 GE CEU credits.

Our Speakers

Robin Fraser, ARIDO is a self-described interior conceptualizer. This all-encompassing designation is a much more apt description of her approach to and relationship with design than that of an Interior Designer. For over 37 years, Robin has developed a distinguished international resume with work in Asia and Canada. A belief in the process and in function has garnered Robin a reputation as thorough, informed, and relevant. Her impressive inventory of skills, her conviction, and intimate rapport with design and food can be seen in her featured appearances on the Food Network’s television series “Restaurant Makeover”.

Recognized for her decisive, risk-taking and imaginative role on a project; Robin’s work encompassed both hospitality and commercial. An animated, colorful visionary, she maintains that not only does she love what she does and she’s good at what she does. Robin prides herself on the ability of bringing the conceptual into reality, likening her approach to that of a filmmaker who “works in frames”. Robin Fraser challenges space, frame by frame, leaving it simple yet complete.

Alyssa Griffith is a Toronto based designer who earned her Bachelor of Interior Design at the International Academy of Design and Technology. She has 10 years experience working in the interior design industry with a focus on residential design.

She began her career as a Junior Designer working closely with residential builders, millwork companies and high end design firms. Alyssa continues to work in the industry as a freelance interior design consultant.

Moderator: Chandran Fernando, Matrix360

Headshot Chandran Fernando

Chandran Fernando is the Founder and Managing Partner of Matrix360, a boutique diverse-owned talent management and workplace strategy firm.

Matrix360 has been engaged by ARIDO’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee to advise and guide their work.

Welcome & Introductions: Golnar Raissi-Dehkordi, ARIDO

Golnar Raissi Dehkordi

Golnar Raissi-Dehkordi, ARIDO is a Senior Registered Interior Designer at Mayhew Inc. She has been with Mayhew for 6+ years with focus on workplace and higher education interior design. She established her Residential Interior Design practice in 2016 as a side hustle and has been working on residential projects since then.

She first joined ARIDO as a student member in 2010 and since then has completed all the steps and requirements to become a voting member of the Interior Design community. In 2017 she completed the requirements for the NCIDQ certification and continues to keep abreast of developments within the industry.

Session 2 – Save the Date!

Session 1 will be followed by a discussion on Hiring Practices & Newcomers to Ontario. Save the Date for July 21st -you won’t want to miss this important conversation.

July 21, 2021 – 4:30 – 6 pm

Event Invitation: The Power of Colour: Being Black in Design – Session 2: Hiring Practices & Newcomers to Ontario

The Power of Colour: Being Black in Design with Session 2: Hiring Practices & Newcomers to Ontario

ARIDO’s Equity, Diversity, Accessibility, and Advancement Committee is pleased to continue the panel series, The Power of Colour: Being Black in Design with Session 2: Hiring Practices & Newcomers to Ontario.

The second session will address the limitations of current hiring practices in the industry and the investment and commitment required to attract, support, advance, and grow Black professionals and newcomers. The session will examine barriers and challenges that exist and how ARIDO can address and create better solutions for opportunities within the industry.

What are the current barriers that limit the recruitment and growth of Black professionals and newcomers in the design industry? What role can ARIDO play in addressing the limitations for opportunities for Black professionals and newcomers?

July 21, 2021 – 4:30 – 6 pm – 1.5 hours

4:00 PM – Event Platform open for Networking
4:30 PM – 6 PM – Panel session (read about our Panelists below)
6:00 PM – 6:30 PM – Wrap Up and Networking

Welcome & Introductions: Mahesh Babooram, Hon. ARIDO

Panelists: Yasmien Fadl, ARIDO and Sine-Tibeb Workneh, ARIDO

Moderator: Chandran Fernando, Matrix360

This session is eligible for 1.5 GE CEU credits.

Accessibility Notes: Members with disabilities who wish to request accommodations or who have questions about access, please contact in advance of the session.

Our Panelists:

Yasmien Fadl, ARIDO

Originally from Sudan, Yasmien grew up in the in UAE & Canada. She is a creative strategist with 17 years of multi-disciplinary interior design, thought leadership, workplace strategy, change management and project delivery experience on the consulting and client side. She has worked overseas and in Canada in multiple design sectors (mainly retail, hospitality and workplace), and is currently the Head of Workplace Design, Experience & Change Management for TD Enterprise Real Estate. Her core focus is crafting people-centric workplace experiences that are resonant, inclusive, responsive and meaningful: “The workplace experience should be the product of thoughtful, proactive decisioning that meets the moment – Diversity is our collective strength, and our workspaces, policies and leadership should reflect that.”

Sine-Tibeb Workneh, ARIDO

Sine-Tibeb started her higher education in Civil Engineering at the University of Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, then proceeded in Interior Architecture at FH Coburg, Germany. In 2002, she graduated with Bachelor’s Degree and won the award of Outstanding International Student by DAAD, (German Academic Exchange Service) During her education, she had the opportunity to do internships in Coburg, Belin, Addis Abeba, and Kumasi, Ghana. These international exposures played a vital role in her innovative furniture design presented in Furniture Fairs in Cologne and Milan. In Canada, she has 16 years of experience in the cabinet industry. In December 2012, she joined the team of Lucvaa Kitchens in Toronto, where she enjoys designing for direct clients and collaborating with Interior Designers, Architects, and Builders. Her works are mainly residential projects, designing millwork for living spaces, kitchens, bathrooms, or anywhere where cabinets are needed. It is essential to her to listen to clients and focus on the fine detailing that results in aesthetically pleasing and functional spaces.

Chandran Fernando, Matrix360

Welcome & Introductions:
Mahesh Babooram, Hon. ARIDO

ARIDO Award Submissions 2021

ARIDO Awards Open for Submissions

UPDATE 17 June, 2021 – The Submission deadline has been EXTENDED to Wednesday, July 7th. With construction activities opening again and the return to work beginning, we have received feedback from many members and firms about their workload.

The refreshed ARIDO Awards Program is now open for submissions. Developed by the Awards Task Force, with input from the 2020 awards survey to the membership, this updated format focuses on engaging ARIDO membership equally while celebrating our diverse community of interior designers in all they do.

Winning projects and the Impact Award will be announced on September 30th, during a virtual gala.

2021 Categories and Occupancy Dates

The projects in the following categories are accepting submissions in 2021. Projects must have been completed between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2020.

  • WORK
  • CARE
Submission Guide

The Awards Submission Guide addresses many questions you may have about the awards including:

  • Important Dates & Entry Fees
  • Refreshed Awards Program
  • Updated Categories & Categories by Year
  • Awards Gala
  • Judging Process
  • Impact Award
  • Updated Project Submission Form
Important Dates

Final Entry Deadline: Deadline extended to Wednesday July 7th, 2021
Regular Entry Fee: $250 + HST (per entry)

ARIDO Awards Gala: Thursday, September 30, 2021

Applicants are responsible for ensuring that the data entered within the online form is factual and accurate. All supporting documentation and photos must be uploaded at the time of submission.

Impact Award

Launching in 2021, the Impact Award is an exciting new component of the ARIDO Awards. It replaces Project of the Year and will have a broad spectrum of considerations, with its own criteria. The winning project must demonstrate a significant impact on an occupant or end user, neighbourhood, community, project team etc. It need not be built space. The project submission must clearly explain how it has shaped or will shape an outcome or direct benefits, and address issues such as equity, diversity, or inclusion, advocacy, sustainability, economic considerations or several interrelated issues.

Note on Photography – 27 May, 2021

ARIDO has received some feedback about the updated photo policy for the awards which prohibits design firm employees from appearing in submission photos. While the new policy is intended to further ensure anonymity and fairness during the new judging process, we recognized that many projects in the 2021 and 2022 categories may have already been photographed.

With the launch of any new program, we recognize that we may need to be cognizant that this new policy may pose challenges for members in participating in the program if enforced aggressively for the 2021 and 2022 awards submission years.

We recommend the following steps for members preparing their submissions:

  • please avoid submitting images for judging which contain Principals, Partners, or Owners (PPOs) of the design firm this year,
  • where photos include PPOs, please blur the faces of any individuals in photos so they are not identifiable.

Submissions that follow these steps will not be disqualified for the 2021 or 2022 awards program. Beginning in 2023, awards submissions should not contain any employees of design firms.

EVENT: CREED Council ‘The Dawn of a New Era’

Join CREED Council (Commercial Real Estate Equity and Diversity Council) and their esteemed panelists in an intimate discussion on why diversity and inclusion are essential for our industry’s future success. These CRE leaders spotlight how to move from words to meaningful change in our workplaces and communities. Now is the time to change the way we acquire, manage and develop our investments including human capital.

DATE Thursday, June 17, 2021
TIME 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
FORMAT A live webinar on Zoom

This event is eligible for 1 GE CEU for ARIDO members.


Sonny Kalsi, CEO, BentallGreenOak (BGO)

Andrea Del Zotto, Director and Executive Vice President, Tridel

Pino Di Mascio, Head of Impact Strategy and Delivery, Dream

Sunita Mahant, Head of Global Initiatives, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Sr. Director, Legal Affairs, Ivanhoe Cambridge and member of CREED Council


Celina Caesar-Chavannes Business Consultant, International Speaker and Sr. Advisor, EDI Initiatives and Adjunct Lecturer at Queen’s University

CREED Panelists
CREEDPartner Logos

GTA Chapter Student Scholarship 2021: YOUR BRAND IDENTITY

The ARIDO GTA Chapter is pleased to offer our Student Scholarship again in 2021.

GTA Chapter Student Scholarship 2021

This year’s scholarship will be awarded to the interior design student with the most unique and creative personal branding package. Students from the GTA Chapter from any ARIDO recognized program are invited to submit an application.

HOW TO SUBMIT: Submissions can include but are not limited to letterhead, resume, business card, brochure, portfolio. Submissions must be in a PDF format and MUST include the student’s ARIDO ID number.

The GTA Board members will review each submission and select the top three.

First Prize: $1,000
Second Prize: $200
Third Prize: $100

Submission deadline: June 30, 2021

Winners will be announced on July 30, 2021

Questions? Contact

ARIDO PD Cycle Ending: What you need to know

ARIDO Professional Development Cycle Ending June 30, 2021

A reminder to all Registered, Educator, and Intern Members that the Professional Development Cycle is ending June 30, 2021. In order to support members with compliance, ARIDO has compiled the following information on the PD program.

Required Hours/Credits

Members are required to complete 12 credits in total, of which, at least 4 credits must be Health and Safety and up to 8 credits may be General Education to comply with regulations mandated by ARIDO. (If you joined ARIDO partway through the cycle, the requirements are pro-rated based on your membership effective date.)

Professional development program graphic

How to Report

IMPORTANT: You have the option to report your credits to the ARIDO Dashboard OR to the IDCEC system, reporting to BOTH is not required. Your options are:

  • ARIDO PD Dashboard – we recommend reporting your credits to the ARIDO PD Dashboard in the Membership Gateway. The PD Dashboard tracks what you have reported and indicates which credits are outstanding. It was created to provide a straightforward to report PD credits. Reporting is simple and should only take a few minutes. If you are audited at the end of the cycle, ARIDO has access to view your reported credits and can help if required.


IDCEC system – to report to the IDCEC, you must be a member of IDC. ARIDO has not had access to the IDCEC reporting system to view/edit reported credits since 2018. ARIDO does not require you to be an IDC member, if you choose to report to the IDCEC and you are audited, you will be required to send ARIDO a copy of your transcripts AND a copy of all your certificates/attachments.

Types of PD

Please consult the ARIDO PD Guide for the acceptance criteria for each category. Keep in mind 1 hour = 1 credit and activities such as mentorship, research, writing, and volunteering are all eligible. Structured learning is just one type of activity that is possible to complete.

  • Structured Learning
  • Instruction/Teaching
  • Research
  • Writing
  • Presenting
  • Volunteering
  • Mentorship as a Mentor or Mentee

Need Additional Credits?

Professional, business, technological, management, and other personal development courses that directly relate to your genre of interior design practice are accepted regardless of accreditation or providers. Follow the acceptance criteria on page 2 of the PD guide. Do not follow the criteria from the course/seminar providers.

What no longer qualifies? Association membership, attending trade-shows, self-guided tours. ARIDO no longer requires IDCEC approved courses.

ARIDO has several resources for members to complete CEUs. Make sure to check they meet the acceptance criteria on page 2 of the ARIDO PD Guide.

Compliance Audit

In June, ARIDO will audit a random percentage of members at the end of the 2019-2021 PD cycle. We will notify selected members. We can review the credits and attachments of members who have reported their Professional Development to the ARIDO PD Dashboard.

If you have reported your credits to IDCEC, you will need to provide the transcript AND copies of certificates or proof. The certificates are required as proof of completion/attendance. Audited members who are not in compliance may be subjected to termination of their membership due to non-compliance.

If you have any questions about the PD program, please contact