Interior designers go against the grain for this immersive wood themed exhibit

As a main sponsor for Toronto’s Interior Design Show in 2019, hardwood flooring manufacturer PurParket sought to create a conceptual space that provides a memorable experience, connecting visitors with the origins of their product.

Interior Designer: Ashley Rumsey, ARIDO; Stanley Sun, ARIDO

Design Team: Marti Hawkins, ARIDO;

Design Firm: Mason Studio    

Photographer: Scott Norsworthy

View of the PURparket exhibit booth entrance

To differentiate from past exhibitions and take advantage of a prime six-hundred square foot location, the design concept focused on creating an immersive space that explores the beauty of wood. Shown in various states of existence, wood becomes both the main feature and the backdrop to the experience.

Visitors to the booth are reminded of the capabilities of wood being both a fundamental building material and a material that can extract visceral emotional response. A full sensory experience of sight, sounds, smell and touch was used to attract the discerning eye of designers and architects triggering memory through a connection with nature.

To reconnect visitors with the natural qualities of the wood product, forest-like forms and activities contribute to an interactive experience while information panels provide an educational component to reinforce the connection between the unprocessed material and finished product.

a wall of raw wood logs with integrated product offerings

To offset the intensity and scale of the show, the booth was conceived as a space within a space to shift from public to private; open to intimate. Designed to create only glimpses of the interior space from the outside, it encourages curious visitors to move from the highly active show floor, to enter and discover what exists within.

Upon entry from two access points, guests are greeted by a wall of raw wood logs with integrated product offerings. The hardwood flooring display is as though it has been revealed from within the tree itself.

To provide guests an opportunity to rest and reflect, a flickering fire sits within the innermost portion of the space. Seen through openings within the log walls, guests can gather, sit on log seating, and enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation.

A playful balance of creativity and sustainability in this award winning project

A leading medical device company wanted their Canadian headquarters to reflect their pioneering spirit and act as a brand tool in which they could educate clients on their mission and solutions. Inspired by the brand’s history of innovation and problem solving, our design team created a custom art installation between two-stories of stairs to ground the space and greet visitors and employees alike upon entering the reception area.

Interior Designer: Caitlin Turner, ARIDO

Design Team: Meagan Buchanan, ARIDO

Design Firm: HOK  

Photographer: Karl Hipolito and Meagan Buchanan

Lounge are in the main lobby area at the bottom of industrial looking black staircase with glass railing against a wood finish wall

Custom-made from components of obsolete medical technology, the thousand-pound ‘chandelier’ considers one of today’s biggest challenges in healthcare: how to break the cycle of waste and obsolescence of medical equipment and technology.

The design and lighting teams collaborated closely with the client to build a fixture that balanced proportion and scale and playfully incorporated light reflecting components to create an installation that is functional – giving a second life to the components used – and also an artistic nod to the client’s history of innovation. 

A view of the Stryker chandelier piece from the second level looking toward the staircase with the wooden wall as a backdrop

Pieces were hand selected with the lighting designer and placed with consideration of how they would balance and how much weight they would put on the strings. The light fixture was engineered to allow for authenticity and sustainability; aircraft cable was chosen for its ability to bear the weight of the components while allowing them to remain as visible and uninterrupted as possible. LED lighting was incorporated for energy efficiency, and to highlight each component’s intricate and unique structure.

The resulting ‘chandelier’ moves beyond ideas of sustainability and recycling to exemplify the idea of material recovery, to breathe new and unexpected life into otherwise redundant parts. It now acts as a brand story-telling and education tool, as well as an everyday reminder of what can be achieved when we open our minds to new solutions.

A client’s forever home reflects their interesting lives in a one of a kind space

For a 5,000 square-foot condominium in an historically listed former school building, we faced the challenge of balancing client needs, historical considerations, and condominium developer constraints.

Interior Designer: Theresa Casey, ARIDO

Design Firm: Casey Design|Planning Group Inc.

Photographer: Donna Griffith 

The clients required space for both large business social events and more intimate private gatherings that reflect their shared passions for art, architecture, travel, and food. They specifically requested two offices and walk-in closets, unique, one of a kind custom elements and space for their grand piano without disturbing neighbouring units.

Their previous home was dark and moody, and they wanted to start fresh with a bright, clean and contemporary home that didn’t feel cold and clinical. From the perspective that this was their forever home they sought “to do this right”, and consider places to strategically spend for most impact and property resale

The designers’ stylistic response drew largely from the language of 1930s design: bold, clean architectural detailing; a high level of artisanal craftsmanship, and custom furnishings that use luxurious materials to express an understated modernity. 

For example, a dramatic two-storey custom bronze screen, inspired by decorative grills from Toronto’s Carlu Auditorium was intended to function, when opened fully, as a divider concealing the kitchen from the dining/living space, but also, when folded into itself, as an architectural pediment framing the deep archway that encloses it.

Located in the heart of Toronto’s Yorkville district, the Gothic Revival building had a dysfunction plan which didn’t work for the client’s needs. The new plan clearly differentiates public and private zones.

This was achieved by placing a spacious grand foyer (the first place of arrival and pause) at the elevator entry, which opens dramatically to the two-storey living, dining and kitchen spaces located in the historic portion of the building.

Next, a library/sitting room was positioned directly on axis with the entry foyer, flanked by symmetrical bronze custom French doors, which offer a view through to the garden terrace beyond, and are reminiscent of the stately apartments of Park Avenue or the Fifth Arrondissement. These two rooms elegantly mediate the transition between the public and private zones. 

Finally, the private zones (including the master suite, two home offices, spacious walk-in closets and dual washrooms) were strategically located in the newly constructed section of the building for optimal visual and acoustic privacy. 

Furnishings, such as acoustically engineered fabric wall panels, or a custom designed colour-blocked credenza and floating bedside tables that reference the work of Charlotte Perriand, and finally a whimsical chinoiserie wall mural in the dressing area, all find their inspiration in 1930s luxury French design and craftsmanship.

The result is a seamless and clearly resolved flow of engaging and meaningful spaces, for formal and informal living, in an urban home that elegantly balances and celebrates the interconnected threads of history, design and craft.

The bronze screen featured in this project was awarded an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2019.

A colorful multi-level work space that links human senses, nature, and technology

The new design of Capital One corporate headquarters in downtown Toronto aligns with the company’s goals to inject ingenuity, simplicity, and humanity into an industry ripe for change. By linking the five levels of the 103,000 square foot office space with corridors bisecting the floors, the design team created a unique experience that gave employees flexibility and choice in their work space to foster a creative process for all work styles. 

Interior Designer: Jane Juranek, ARIDO 

Design Firm: IBI Group Architects (Canada) 

Design Team: Mahsa Saeedi, ARIDO 

Project Photographer: Ben Rahn, A Frame Studio

A communal work/lounge area with desks and colorful benches in the foreground and offices and meeting rooms in the background

The scope of work included programming and pre-design, schematic design, design development, bidding and negotiation, construction administration, post construction, construction documents and specifications

A communal lounge/cafeteria area with modern colorful seating and stunning views of the city spanning around the entire space through full length windows.

Inspiration began with the office’s dramatic city views of the underdeveloped adjacent rail lands and the potential re-animation with the rail deck park project in the heart of the city. The design team applied the same approach by reintroducing linking corridors bisecting the floors and thus reclaiming underutilized space.

Modern colorful orange sitting booths for lounging or working, found along the long white corridors.

In order to create a unique, immersive experience for each of the five levels, an internal zone, typically used for storage/back of house, was transformed into links that act as the connective tissue within the premises. 

Another corridor featuring modern colorful benches in blue found along the long white corridors.

These links were defined by the following terms: In-Stinct, In-Line, In-Time In-Focus and In-Sight.

“In-Stinct”, the emotional response, features a blue floating, fluid structure that supports interaction that frames, navigates and separates activities.

“In-Line”, inspired by discussions surrounding rail deck based green spaces, forms an urban parkette, bringing the outside in.

“In-Focus”, is the interaction of technology and scale through light, colour, and geometry.

“In-Sight”, derives from fractal geometric patterns, as seen in nature.

Alternative team space meant for tech huddles and creative thinking, with large bar height surface and writable walls all around.

Each link uses saturated colour to define the space and contrast with the white envelope. The punches of colour throughout the space connect each link and evoke an emotional response.  Alternative team spaces were designed to support tech huddles/scrums for creative thinking. These spaces include writable walls with embedded technology and branding.

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

Any way you slice it, PZA Restaurant is a totally cool homage to Italy

PZA Restaurant is a distinctive, authentic Italian restaurant unique to the burgeoning culinary scene north of Toronto. The passionate first-time restaurant clients wanted their wholehearted Italian personalities to be reflected in the design. Known for their welcoming hospitality and traditional Italian menu, the PZA brand is unapologetically proud of its heritage which is celebrated in the food, art, and design of the space. 

Interior Designers: Keith Rushbrook, ARIDO; Dan Menchions, ARIDO

Design Firm: II BY IV DESIGN

Photographer: David Whittaker

With a total area of 4,200 square feet, our team provided a viable solution to the design, construction, operational efficiency, and overall space challenges. The design concept was inspired using food and pop culture to retell the story of traditional Italian values. We worked closely with the client to refine and elevate the original concept by creating a visually impactful space that celebrates Italian culture. 

Our design team worked to implement highly innovative customer experience strategies to improve the overall service. This included optimizing circulation spaces to maximize seating, and areas that blended beauty and functionality effortlessly into a carefully crafted ambience. The interior is a study of contrasts: original artwork and dark high-end design finishes with a confident composition of colour. 

Cool blues and bold reds were set against a slightly raw industrial background, while being accented by strategic lighting. An underlying foundation of the design was important in specifying the right products for an urban yet sensual feel. This was comparable to the restaurant’s attention to sourcing the best ingredients for its menu.

The humble restaurant proudly exhibits two incredible large-scale art installations: a wooden pizza peel ceiling sculpture, and an energetically bold graffiti mural. Both pieces embrace the essence of Italian culture, the love of food and life which epitomize the soul of the space. Turn your gaze up from any seat in the restaurant and you’ll see the 112-piece custom-designed paddle installation inspired by the lifecycle of a pizza peel. 

Unobstructed views of the 25-feet-long Sophia Loren graffiti mural by Anthony Ricciardi, a contemporary artist with an international profile, demonstrates the iconic Hollywood actress’s significance as a symbol of Italian food and culture. Sophia Loren symbolizes the passion, dedication, and tenderness in the social act of coming together to enjoy food.

Lower your gaze, and you will find a dining surface with #PZARESTAURANT engraved on each tabletop throughout the space, astutely tapping in to diner’s newly established instinct to snap a pic and post to the ‘gram before digging in. 

Through bold artistic gestures, earthy textures, rich warm shades and materials with tasteful Italian references, PZA maintains the signature relaxed but lively atmosphere that brings together all generations of family. 

The success of the project was found in the welcoming atmosphere and warmth felt in every corner of the restaurant. The essence of how food and life are meaningfully intertwined is what fuels the dynamism of the restaurant. In the famous words of Mrs. Loren, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” Everything you see in the design of this magnetic space is owed to the passion and devotion for creating remarkable, lasting impressions.

PZA Restaurant was awarded an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2019

The materials palette is as lush as the menu at this Toronto restaurant

Our design team was contacted by David Chang, eight years after he launched Momofuku in Toronto. The brand has matured in new directions and experienced significant growth, so Chang called on DesignAgency to work with Momofuku once again to reinvent their signature Toronto restaurant. Kōjin, Momofuku’s take on a steakhouse, is all about treating guests to the sensations of an open flame grill. 

Interior Designer: Allen Chan, ARIDO 

Design Firm: DesignAgency 

Project Photographer: Bob Gundu

As the first Momofuku restaurant to be led by an Executive Chef instead of Chang,  the design needed to remain true to the brand while also conveying a slightly unique flavour – inspired by Chef Paula Navarette’s Colombian heritage.

Our design team began working with Momofuku’s core palette of wood and blackened steel, as well as its signature Token stools and Roll and Hill chandeliers. At the same time, we shifted the palette from white oak to dark walnut and added luxurious and sensual materials such as luminous hand-glazed terracotta tiles, oxblood leather, and touches of glittering brass. A Momofuku peach element at the entrance maintains consistency with other locations. 

The interior complements the restaurant’s Columbian influenced menu with an earthiness that further reflects the multicultural influences of the Momofuku brand. For example, the open layout was inspired by the buzz found in izakayas (informal Japanese pubs) that comes from an open kitchen, as well as the energy of parrillas (open flame grills from South America). Blackened steel shelves display tchotchkes against wood panels inspired by shou-sugi ban, the Japanese method of preserving wood with fire. This layering instills a sense of playfulness and curiosity.  

The client wanted a flexible main dining room, so we selected seating that can be easily repositioned or removed: stools for kitchen or bar-side dining, small tables, and large booths for groups. We also calibrated sight lines for high visibility, making it easy for staff to navigate the restaurant, while also ensuring that guests enjoy an intimate relationship with the goings on in the kitchen and bar. 

An open layout ensures that every diner has a view both inwards into the kitchen and open fire grill, and outwards with 180-degree views of Toronto’s University Avenue, taking advantage of Kōjin’s prime location.

Interior lighting consisted of carefully selected luminaires that inspired the mood and unique sense of place. Custom light fixtures float at the edge of the dining room, adding levity and announcing Kōjin from the street. Each pendant’s hand-folded triple linen shades are threaded like totem poles, softly illuminating the room at night.

Throughout the bar and the kitchen, backlit textured glass adds a warm glow against a black porcelain tile wall, and a red neon sign glows with the kanji symbol for fire.

The intrinsically unique Kōjin, offers a range of different environments – from grand to intimate. Our design team worked to create Kōjin as a completely new atmosphere for Momofuku Toronto. The range of textures and features bond together the past and present for an exclusive restaurant experience.

This project was awarded an ARIDO Award in 2019.

Good bones? This updated office space is a sustainable and beautiful upgrade

Our team worked with stakeholders and staff of this 50-person sustainable design firm to transform how their work environment promotes interaction and collaboration with clients, employees and consultants. The workspace environment reflects the company’s entrepreneurial spirit, sustainability goals, and collaborative process. 

Interior Designer: Dora Lomax, ARIDO

Design Firm: McCallumSather

Photographer: Banko Media

This project was an astounding 10,000 square feet of a 1917 heritage building which had been abandoned for three decades. The design team spent six months studying integrated teams to create a modern, sustainable workplace that reflects the ways in which productivity and teamwork has evolved. 

Extensive research was conducted, and an in-depth change management plan was executed by the Interiors team. The collaboration zones are located along a clear circulation “street,” connecting individuals who may not typically work together. Spaces are filled with back painted glass writable walls, encouraging collaboration, with adequate sound attenuation and seating choices. High steel tables inspire debate, design, and creativity. 

There were many challenges faced with a project of this size and nature. These included: 

  • Considering the needs of three disciplines (architectural, mechanical and interior design) to facilitate the integrated design process. 
  • Utilizing the building’s existing architectural, mechanical and electrical constraints. This would help to showcase the talents of the firm. 
  • Working with the existing heritage infrastructure including archaic materials, fire and life safety, heritage conservation.
  • Coordinating the move, phased and vertical construction, acoustical controls and AODA challenges.
  • Balancing historic patina with modern renewal. 

With no assigned seating, the floor plan is split into zones – focused, residential, collaborative. Each zone is equipped with a variety of workstations and touchdown areas to accommodate accessibility, ergonomics, and different working styles. In the centre of the space are the original, exposed steel trusses. 

Specialized coatings were applied to meet life safety requirements, this allowed us to showcase this incredible feature. The original details are celebrated throughout the space. Original marble mosaic, terrazzo floors, exquisite plaster ceiling mouldings, and speed tile have been salvaged and restored where possible. The project succeeds by balancing heritage renewal and sustainable design into a meaningful interactive workspace.

Without assigned desks, users have lockers to store personal items, resulting in printing reduction of over 80% plus improved coordination of materials. The focus zone sees a library, resource area, and soundproof phone booths. 

Budget constraints lead the team to design a bespoke sound attenuated glazing system, exceeding sound performance, cost, and schedule. 

Enhancing natural light was key. Large, operable wood windows reduce heat and energy loss, reinforced with daylight-sensor LED lights. The design has resulted in projected energy savings of over 50% and energy cost savings of over 30%, compared to a more traditional office environment. 

Special features include a vinyl wall graphic of a map of the city, designed and printed locally with no off-gassing during application; original marble mosaic floors, terracotta ceilings; and signature trusses uncovered during the renovation coated with intumescent paint

The reuse and re-upholstering of most of the furniture from their previous office, re-purposed furniture sourced from the original building, enhances sustainability, and budget goals.

The result is a fresh, modern office which respects the building’s historic bones and adds updated details to provide employees with everything they need.

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

Student Housing is reinvented at this former hotel

Campus 1 MTL is a restoration and adaptive reuse project of a former hotel in Montreal. This project presented a new model of post-secondary living in Canada. It involved a transformation of a former 19-storey hotel into student residences, where the goal was to create environments for optimal interaction as opposed to the privacy model employed by hotels. Our design team took on the extensive 436,000 square feet of project space, which makes this project’s transformation all the more astonishing.  

Interior Designer: Bryan Chartier, ARIDO 

Design Firm: Diamond Schmitt Architects 

Project Photographer: James Brittain

The design objective was to provide a Residence Education Model where the lines are blurred between living and learning, strike a balance between transparency and privacy, while also considering issues such as acoustics and safety. This model of new residence for students would bring a cohesive environment that promotes social interaction.

Our client privately operates the facility and wanted to address both a need for improved living standards, affordable housing for students, and ultimately, remove the burden from post-secondary institutions of managing their operation. Thus, our client’s intent was to attract students away from their digitally enabled rooms to form their own community. The community was built to support development of one’s social self for a student typically living away from home for the first time.

The design integrates programmed and unprogrammed space, which allows students to make the residence their own. The programmed spaces include a study space and a range of recreational facilities (basketball court, weight and cardio room, yoga studio, etc.) that sets the stage for work and play. Furnishings were selected to provide choice between collaboration and more focused individual study time in an open environment. 

Given the extensive nature of the project, it was not without many challenges. A key challenge of this hotel conversion was to create greater opportunities for students to interact with each other and to foster a closer sense of community in ways a hotel does not. This also included strong emphasis on providing a secure environment that had to be balanced with making the space feel inviting and accessible. As part of the planning exercise, the student services office and 24-hour desk were positioned opposite the elevator banks to ensure students always have access to services when needed. 

Successfully converting hotel rooms into student accommodation provides a variety of living configurations. The typical configuration includes: two private bedrooms, a living room and a shared washroom. There were also double bedroom options; a single bedroom; and single barrier-free configurations to meet the different needs of the student users. In addition, each floor incorporated different amenity rooms to encourage inter-floor socialization.

The former main floor of the hotel was shifted by moving the restaurant from the entrance to become a dining hall further into the space which would anchor social interaction by pulling students from the entrance, lounges, and tower elevators. A lounge now occupies the front of the building, enlivening the connection with the street. Two main circulation routes were created to tie all the ground floor program elements together in a clean and clear manner. This promoted flow and balance to the project. 

Finally, the main security desk is integrated into a wall with a seating niche opposite to balance the function of this space. Casual “touch down” areas were implemented to reinforce serendipitous exchange. Just beyond the main desk is an open, unexpected feature to support collegiality: a multi-tiered “mountain” that acts as a place to casually hang out. The inspiration is Mount Royal, which rises above the downtown campus. 

A reinvention of student housing was accomplished in this project, and this would bring balance to student life by providing spaces that promote social interaction, and the opportunity to live in a “home” away from home.

This project also received an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2019.

The urban ski chalet vibe of this Montreal flagship provides a warm and cozy welcome

Over the last several years, the Canadian outerwear brand, Mackage, has been on track to build a network of 30 new stores, aiming to develop a presence in some of the world’s most prominent cities. With the launch of their latest store in Montreal, Mackage was presented with an opportunity for the brand to further evolve their iconic design, setting themselves apart from their competitors. 

Interior Designers: Diego Burdi, ARIDO; Tom Yip, ARIDO

Design Firm: Burdifilek

Photographer: Ben Rahn, A-Frame Studio

Since the launch of their first  store, the initial vision for the urban ski chalet encapsulated Mackage’s brand ethos and fueled its growth. By reinterpreting the brand’s established architectural heritage along the primary retail artery of Montreal, rue Ste. Catherine, Mackage took this chance to refine the brand experience and bolster its hometown legacy in the development of its first freestanding flagship store.

Manifesting the store’s driving concept on the heels of a major redevelopment of rue Ste Catherine, the design team took inspiration from the implementation of a new logo and graphics, laying the groundwork for a reinvigorated brand identity. 

Burdifilek

Upon first glance, the handsome elegance of the architectural facade gives little away to suggest revitalization, yet the interior is  a contemporary reference to the brand’s visionary spirit. The architectural framework is protected by  retaining original details and reinstating elements to highlight its lasting beauty. Changes in scale respect the rhythm and structure of the historic building by sitting quietly as a backdrop  for products to shine. The old world charm is personified through the warm, textured layers of noble materials including Canadian oak, to impart an uncompromising quality and elegance to the new interventions.

To instill a sense of intimacy within the large volume of space, the new concept was established around  the principle of compartmentalization. Transforming the space into a gallery for the brand collection, large windows showcase a series of boxed vignettes, punctuating the space at varying heights, as the design plays with scale to create visual interest. Stepping inside each vignette to shop the collection creates an intimate, cocoon effect for shoppers to experience the brand promise.

Burdifilek

Raising the standard for how brands can pay homage to their Canadian heritage without  relying on traditional “Canadiana” themes, this sophisticated interior appeals to a global-minded,  fashion-forward audience with a level of discernment that is both approachable and active in elevating  brand perception. 

The European nero marquina herringbone floor set against the existing stonework in the heritage building, exposed structural  beams, and lightly wire-brushed oak plank cultivates a style sensibility with a sense of quiet luxury. 

Splashes of  black nero marquina marble, and oversized mirrors, accented with brushed bronze and dark metals, gives the impression of  reserved  sophistication to the palette. Purposefully manicured compositions grace the neutral space, where  rich hues found within the striking photograph of a flipped iceberg by Alex Cornell floods the space  with warmth.

Mackage sets itself apart from its competition along this street, establishing a luxe atmosphere designed to flourish on the high energy of its prime location, destined to become a landmark in the retail epicentre of the city.

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

This stunning apartment is a lesson in design from a distance

Situated in the Majestic, a historic apartment building on the Upper West Side of New York City, 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.