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.

Submissions now open for the 2022 ARIDO Awards!

Arido Awards 2022 Submissions are open

This is the second year of the refreshed ARIDO Awards program which was developed by the Awards Task Force in 2020. The updated format focuses on engaging the membership throughout the province and celebrating excellence in Interior Design while fostering more inclusive practices that support a more diverse community for the future.

Winning projects and the Impact Award will be announced during a virtual gala in fall 2022.

2022 Categories and Occupancy Dates

The following categories are accepting project submissions in 2022:

  • GATHER+PLAY
  • LIVE
  • LIVE TOGETHER
  • SHOP
  • PRESERVE+RESTORE
  • DISTINCT
  • CRAFT

Project Occupancy Dates

Projects must have been completed between January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2020.

Submission Guide

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

Important Dates & Entry Fees
Refreshed Awards Program
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Criteria – Updated for 2022
Photography Policy
Updated Categories & Categories by Year
Awards Gala
Judging Process
Impact Award
Updated Project Submission Form

Important Dates

Early Bird Entry Deadline: Friday, May 27, 2022
Early Bird Entry Fee: $150 + HST (per entry)

Final Entry Deadline: Friday, June 3, 2022
Regular Entry Fee: $250 + HST (per entry)

ARIDO Awards Gala: DATE TBD


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

Launched 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.

Photography Policy

The refreshed awards program 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 recognize that many projects may have already been photographed. We recommend the following steps for members preparing their submissions:

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

Submissions that follow these steps will not be disqualified for the 2022 awards program.

Beginning in 2023, awards submissions should not contain any employees of design firms.

Questions? Please contact awards@arido.ca or Communications Coordinator, Ali Moenck.

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.

An exercise in elegance and luxury

The sophisticated design approach for this gym and recreational facility in the upscale Rosedale neighbourhood in Toronto ties in with its surroundings through the use of luxurious materials and finishes like brass and copper, thus creating a theme of elegance.

Interior Designer:  Siavash Mahdieh, ARIDO

Design Firm: PULSINELLI

Photographer: Ben Rahn, A-Frame Studio

Rosedale Club front window showcasing the elegant reception and waiting area inside.

The design team looked after programming and pre-design, schematic design, design development, and construction administration of this 18,000 square foot facility.

The main objective behind the design solution for this interior was to create an elegant and modern design direction harmonious with the sophisticated surrounding neighbourhood. To achieve that, first several interior walls had to be removed to create an open concept and enable an unobstructed view from the outside, to tie in the interior with its upscale surroundings.

Then, it was important to designate specific areas of the interior to accommodate the different fitness and exercise areas, as well as the lounge area and reception, the three sales offices, nutritionist and healthcare assistant office space, and the juice and bar area.

An open concept vapor fireplace, featured at the floor level transition, hides the difference between floor levels and turns the 200 square feet at the front window into a lounge area. This created an elegant display at the front window without blocking the view to inside space. The circular seating area in front of the reception creates an effective traffic flow that separates the reception from the lounge and juice bar.

Interior design is key to expressing the brand experience

The design for Picnic Food’s first street-front shop had to reference previous iterations, in subterranean concourses, in a refreshed experience.

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

Design Firm: Mason Studio

Design Team: Marti Hawkins, Intern ARIDO

With more expansion in mind, an adaptable design needed features that would be both easily replicable as well as physically identifiable as key symbols of the brand experience. Repeated linear woven wood textures recall textiles commonly associated with picnics and become an iconic design element for future locations. The communal dining table returns on a trestle base while the lime and watermelon brand colours are present via with greenery in terracotta pots.

History and place dictated the eclectic redesign of an East End icon

The new Broadview Hotel has come a long way from its former lives as a factory, a boarding house and then “Jilly’s” – an infamous seedy nightclub. Now, the landmark in Toronto’s east end is a chic 58-room boutique hotel boasting a restaurant, cafe, an indoor/outdoor event space, and a rooftop bar.

Interior Designer: Allen Chan, ARIDO
Design Firm: DesignAgency
Photographer: Worker Bee Supply

The building’s historic architecture, its varied uses over time, and the surrounding neighbourhood character inspired the design team to explore and reference its different phases and styles. They mixed styles and periods to reinforce the eclectic layers built up over time, using an array of bespoke finishes, furniture, and lighting, mixed with a pastiche of industrial, vintage and contemporary pieces. Furniture and lighting by Canadian designers including Coolican & Company, Anony, were incorporated along with custom art from a local curator.

Elegant bar area with stools and gray marble flooring.

A magnet for both guests and neighbours, the airy ground-floor cafe invites guests to sink into leather banquettes or gather at the white marble and brass bar under a halo of pink neon – an installation by the son of the creator of the original Jilly’s sign. Custom-designed wallpaper replicates designs found during demolition, and an “eroded” floor mixing wood and tile nod to the building’s history. The main-floor restaurant has the richness of a classic tavern, with surprising elements like drapery with lemurs smoking hookah pipes.

The guest rooms, the most spirited spaces of all, mix Victorian-style floral wallpaper and upholstery with deep blue ceilings, red velvet drapery, brass lighting, and even a brass rail to create a playful, modern boudoir ambience.

Bedroom at the Broadview Hotel with maroon curtains and lush white bedding.

The hotel’s treasure is found in the building’s tower, where guests find an intimate space for private dinners. The exposed brick and wood beams of the tower’s vaulted ceiling contrast with wood dining tables, leather chairs, vintage mirrors and a symphony of chandeliers – a magical space unlike any other in the city.

Interior dining room with decorative chandeliers.

The hotel has won numerous awards and the seventh-floor restaurant/bar has been voted one of the top patios in Canada, delighting guests with its stunning 360-degree views. With the redesign, the hotel is now a key catalyst in Toronto’s eastward expansion.

Symbolism reigns in this Dubai Museum

Situated on Dubai’s waterfront, the Etihad Museum honours the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) conception story. Comprised of the curving Pavilion above ground and a subterranean Museum, the building is adjacent to the historic Union House, where the nation’s Constitution was signed in 1971.

Interior Designer: Chen Cohen, ARIDO

Design Firm: Moriyama & Teshima Architects

Project Photographer: Victor Romero, Felix Loechner

The museum makes an impact with its unique scroll-like form which mimics the parchment paper of the UAE Constitution. The Pavilion’s entry features bronze metal text of the nation’s founding philosophy that seems to rise from a page of marble. Rows of embossed bronze columns recall pens in motion, referencing the signatory act that formalized the Emirati unification.

Marble covered entry to Etihad museum with diagonally leaning columns.

A grand staircase and ramp that echo flowing lines of Arabic script takes Pavilion visitors underground. Once descended, visitors encounter the familiar circular form of Union House through a curving foundation wall, clad in dune-like carved stone. This familiar element becomes the central organizing feature of the museum, a constant reference point for visitors as they navigate the massive permanent gallery and its surrounding spaces.

The flow of movement is further highlighted by billowing white ceiling planes that represent the rippling patterns of the Bedouin winds in the desert sand. Movement is further accentuated by carved wood columns throughout the space.

Marble and white exhibition area with white curving walls.

The museum houses permanent and temporary galleries, a theatre, event spaces, and archival facilities, and the design team placed these rooms strategically, as they have no need of natural light. Meanwhile, two spacious sunken courtyards and four large skylights connect to the ground level plaza, flooding the sub-terranean classrooms, research library, administration offices, prayer rooms, and café with natural light and prevent visitors from feeling stuck underground.

Cafe space at Etihad museum, with view of open courtyard.

The design team worked to ensure the museum is a space that represents the UAE’s past while creating a site for learning and exchange in the present, and progress in the future.

Local art with a Scandi-chic vibe welcomes everyone to this Toronto condo

Located in an emerging part of Toronto’s downtown East, The Bartholomew demanded a design that would attract style-savvy buyers who appreciate an eclectic downtown lifestyle. A home where diversity is not only expected but is celebrated.

Interior Designer: Kelly Cray, ARIDO

Design Team: Margaret Stagg, ARIDO; Eugenia Alvarez, ARIDO

Design Firm: U31

Project Photographer: Jac Jacobson

The challenge was to create inclusive, affordable, yet stylish interiors for a wide demographic: professionals, growing families, empty-nesters, singles, and couples. Another client directive was to have all art and installations throughout common areas of the tower commissioned to local artists to give back and support the local community. Of note, is a unique black “willow”-like wood sculpture that hangs by the side of the concierge desk against black stone, lending understated glamour.

One manner of appealing to a broad range of lifestyles was to deliver serene spaces where residents could interact and relax. Light is essential in creating a variety of moods, and the design team used this element in multiple ways. The concierge desk, for example, features hexagon mosaic tiles under a wash of concealed light, giving it the illusion of sparkling gems.

In the lobby a dramatic ambient light installation over the seating area becomes a feature element. Contemporary furniture selections, fashioned in neutral tones, continue the Zen, yet hip vibe.

Fitting a lounge, a private dining room, and television room in the compact 2nd floor party room presented a challenge. To achieve this, foldable walls were incorporated so each space could be closed off to accommodate private events; alternatively, the entire space can be opened when walls are folded back.

The rooms are visually connected through black wire lighting that appears in each space. The dining area exudes a clean, mid-century modern and Scandinavian feel expressed through light backgrounds, minimalist lighting, and pops of black, including the chairs: they are all different but of the same era, and unify the seating in a thoughtful and playful way.

Designing healthcare spaces for kids: Introducing a sense of exploration and curiosity

What’s it like to design a healthcare space for children? Is it possible to infuse that space with imagination and whimsy, while simultaneously following the practical rules of a healthcare setting, such as infection control, times of operation, and safety?

Interior Designer: Laurena Clark, ARIDO

Design Firm: Stantec Architecture Ltd.

Photographer: Richard Johnson

These are the questions that inspired Stantec’s designers to take a unique approach to the redesign of the Women’s Auxiliary Volunteers (WAV) PlayPark at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. The PlayPark is a volunteer-run space for the siblings of young patients who are at the hospital for treatment. Over the years, the much-loved PlayPark had become outdated. Stantec’s designers were tasked with not only updating the look but upgrading the space to be more functional and accessible.

Two of members of the PlayPark design team — interior designer Laurena Clark, ARIDO and architect Olivera Sipka — sat down to discuss their approach and provide advice for others designing similar spaces.

What was different about the SickKids PlayPark, compared to other projects that you’ve worked on?

Laurena: As designers, we always empathize with, and put ourselves in the position of, the people who will use the spaces we design. But with this project, we realized we needed to get to an even deeper level of emotion. SickKids provided us with touching information—like quotes from kids that have loved the space over the years—that made us more emotionally attached. One young man, who is now in his 20s, wrote about how he was so young when his brother began a stay at SickKids, and this young man felt so lost. Both of his parents were busy with his brother’s care, and the young man never got to see his friends. But he had the PlayPark. He wrote about what a joy it was to visit the PlayPark at such a gloomy time in his life. So, redesigning a space that makes such an impact on the lives of young people is a tremendous responsibility. And my kids are the same age as typical PlayPark visitors, between the ages of 4 and 9. So, on an emotional level, that also impacted my design approach.

Reception desk and entry at SickKids PlayPark with coloured circles in random organic patterns.

Can you talk more about your specific design approach for this project?

Laurena: We were doing so much more than designing a “space.” We were creating an experience for those kids and families. We added zones inspired by nature—like a lake, canyon, and hills—so we could bring a park setting to kids that are inside for long periods of time. Also, the PlayPark isn’t just a space that has a certain function. Most of the spaces we design—such as waiting rooms, for example—have specific functions in mind. And, while a waiting room might have some toys and games, those are isolated activities. As soon as you walk into PlayPark, you’re intrigued to explore. We also had to include so much more depth in the design and the activities available because many kids come to the PlayPark for extended periods of time—days, months, even years. We had to pack a lot more in than you might find in a typical waiting room where a child may only visit for a few hours at a time.

Can you tell us more about the zones inspired by nature? What does that look like?

Laurena: We created a forest landscape in the central open space, which features trees made of thick resin panels to create a “leafy” canopy. The tree trunks are a perfect place to wind through on a tricycle. We added a quiet “cave nook,” with fiber-optic twinkling lights in the ceiling, to create the sense of sitting beneath the stars. This is a space where kids can sit quietly when they might not want to engage. It was important to us that kids have choices as they go through a difficult time. The art studio area features a meadow theme with a giant LED panel of tall grasses with lights overhead that look like fluffy clouds. The performance space is designed with curves to suggest hills, with an organic-shaped seating nook and original illustrations.

What’s your advice for others designing a space for children?

Laurena: Open communication. Create an environment of trust and respect so team members feel comfortable throwing ideas out, even if they’re not perfect.

Olivera: It’s about listening. Make sure you listen to kids’ experiences. While working on this project, we listened to children, parents, and even teenagers who used to visit the space when they were younger.

How did you get into the child-like mindset necessary for PlayPark’s redesign?

Laurena: I just had to shut everything off. For healthcare projects, we’re so used to working within the confines of budget, time, and cleanability. So, I had to stop thinking about all the practical things that block ideas from coming freely.

Can you think of something from your own childhood that you brought to this project?

Laurena: I have lots of memories of exploring freely as a child, such as exploring outside, or looking through my mom’s closet and playing dress-up. So, I wanted to bring a feeling of exploration, as well as surprise. During a visit to PlayPark, my kids loved looking through the cupboards and finding the toys that were in there.

Every surface has storage behind it. That alone is an element of exploration. This contrasts with a lot of other pediatric spaces, where you see toys everywhere. It feels busy, and it’s almost overstimulation. Whereas at PlayPark, you have a clean, bright, airy space, and you can interact with surfaces in different ways. All the clutter is hidden. And there’s that element of surprise, as kids discover what’s behind each door.

Do you have any final pieces of advice to offer someone approaching a project like this?

Olivera: Don’t just focus on technology. When designing for kids, we often tend to look at new technologies, such as interactive screens. But with this project, the focus was on play. It turned out to be more of a whimsical place, where kids have opportunities to be themselves.

Laurena: It’s possible to create a fun space while simultaneously working within the confines of a hospital. We designed PlayPark to hospital standards, in terms of infection control. We used all the same materials that other healthcare spaces use—like rubber floors and solid surfaces—and we considered cleaning, like you would in any other area of the hospital. Everything was wipeable. You can utilize those materials in a way that creates an environment that doesn’t look institutional.

This post originally appeared on Stantec.com’s Ideas Blog. The PlayPark project also recieved an Award of Merit in the 2018 ARIDO Awards.

A modern look for a well-established pension firm

As a private pension firm, the client approached the design team to pioneer a new way of working, one that would empower innovation and strengthen the organization’s commitment to excellence. The client wanted to pilot an activity-based work environment that reflected their formal corporate culture and business groups. The wanted to introduce unassigned seating, solutions for collaboration, consistent integration of technology and expressions of its brand.

Interior Designer: Caitlin Turner, ARIDO

Design Team: Danielle Leon, ARIDO; Sharon Turner, ARIDO; Lori Urwin, ARIDO; Meagan Hackney, ARIDO

Design Firm: HOK

Project Photographer: Ben Rahn

To incorporate these expressions the design team turned to the client’s logo, an apple, which resonates with their members, and symbolizes energy and innovation. Copper, critical for apple growth, also fuelled the design team’s inspiration.

In the new space, the enhanced experience begins when employees enter the floor via the work cafe. Natural light filters through the cafe highlighting the variety of seating: booths, harvest tables, high-top tables and traditional cafe tables. Bronze cabinets, brass accents and an antique mirror are material manifestations of copper. The energized space is used all day for meetings, eating and spontaneous collaboration.

To elevate the adjacent locker room, the team designed custom walnut personal cabinets for securing belongings, ensured views to the exterior were preserved and included feature lighting. This positively impacts how employees start and finish their day. A new integrated ceiling, LED lighting, and HVAC system promote sustainability and user comfort.

The team designed a kit of parts which include twenty varieties of spaces with the same plug and play technology. The plan encourages employees to move around the floor throughout the day, selecting the setting that suits their needs. Furniture selections and accent carpets throughout the space soften the atmosphere, while darker tones and natural materials elevate the overall aesthetic.

The success of the pilot is highlighted by the firm’s decision to implement the kit of parts in other areas of their office.