ARIDO Award Winner: Sculpting An Expression Of Movement Together

The first residential building leading a new phase of Church St. in Toronto, the interior design for 411 Church brings an upscale brand experience to the bustling Church and Wellesley neighbourhood. The developer, CentreCourt, wanted this project and its lobby experience to set the tone for its future work.

Category: CRAFT

Interior Designers: Dominic De Freitas, ARIDO; Suzanne Wilkinson, ARIDO; Bonnie Leung, ARIDO
Design Firm: Figure3
Joint Venture: Urban Art & Metal Works Inc.

Photographer: Steve Tsai Photography

With a narrow, tall lobby at 411 Church, Figure3 wanted to activate the volume of negative space with a beautiful custom ceiling sculpture to draw the attention of visitors and passersby, and to evoke a feeling of wonder.

Inspiration came a few years earlier as Figure3 Principal and Residential Studio Lead was in Paris. Luxury retail shops such as Prada and Louis Vuitton along the Champs-Élysées all had beautiful sculptural elements in their atria, which evoked a powerful, emotional response.

Detail view looking up at the gold scuplture of cross hatched bars.

A geometric and artful sculpture with intertwined rods expressing movement was the selected concept.

With elegance and luxury top of mind, no welds, seams, or fastening screws were to be visible, however, which was quite a challenge. Taking advantage of the sharp, crisp edges that can be created in a mill, solid aluminum bars were chosen as the material in square, flat and rectangular shapes. Round aluminum dowel pins connect each piece together, ensuring no joins or fastenings are visible.

Detail view of several intersections of the cross hatched bars, making an artistic grid.

In order to understand the size and proportions of the sculptural elements, Figure3 created several iterations of the sculpture in a 3D format. The designs were then sent to the fabricator, Urban Art & Metal Works (UAMW), to determine how the imagined concept could be realized. The fabricator and interior design team evaluated several materials for weight and cost considerations before selecting aluminum. Every horizontal and vertical piece was cut to size, its dowel pins hand-cut, with matching holes drilled to create a press-fit for secure assembly. Using their shop’s ceiling height, UAMW recreated a false wood ceiling containing the light fixture cut-outs from 411 Church in order to begin the assembly of the vertical support flat bars and spacing layout process.

Computer rendering of the bars of this geometric scuplture.

It took four skilled employees five weeks in the shop to execute the design and assembly. With the preassembly completed and approved, they then had to disassemble each piece, engraving each piece with its connecting location. Once all bars were identified, they were sent for gold powder coating. With 368 bars and 800 hand-cut dowels, the sculpture is 29 feet long, 21 feet wide, and 7 feet tall, weighing a total of 1,900 pounds.

At 411 Church, a team of four assembled the sculpture over three weeks; first securing the vertical flat bars and their connections to the ceiling, then, carefully adding each piece one at a time.

With the calm backdrop of white marble, a luxurious gold-colored ceiling sculpture makes for a brilliant and striking contrast. Gold bars are inlaid within the marble that lines the lobby as if parts of the sculpture are integrated into the lobby walls. This component demarcates the lobby area from the adjacent elevators and divides the space.

With the condo located in Toronto’s most prominent LGBTQ+ neighborhood and a bustling university community, it was very important for the art piece to reflect the diversity of the area. The intersection of the pieces is like the intersection of communities, separate and united at once, and greater than the sum of its parts. Its simplicity impresses, and its perceived undulating pieces dazzle. It’s public art for all to see and admire.

Suspended over the reception desk, the beautiful sculpture completes the space, accenting the height of the lobby. Viewed from the double story window outside, or inside the space, this one-of-a-kind art piece dazzles.

Project details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: 2020
Project Square Footage: 700 square feet

ARIDO Award Winner: The Selby – Still Light

Still Light, the custom ceiling sculpture suspended in the lobby of The Selby is intended to remind residents of the storied history of the site and the presence of the historic Gooderham home. One of the client directives was to create an art piece that is visually accessible and engaging to viewers. Following this, we created a timeless, hybrid aesthetic that is at once traditional and modern, literal and abstract, conceived as a means of seamlessly blending old and new.

Category: CRAFT

Interior Designer: Johnson Chou, ARIDO
Design Firm: Johnson Chou Inc.
Photographer: Rajeshta Julatum, Designstor

Still Light is an abstraction or reinterpretation of a distillery still, which pays homage to the history of the site as a distillery and to the Gooderham’s as the original occupants of the historic mansion and co-founders of Gooderham and Worts Distillery, which was once the largest distillery in the world.

Suspended from the ceiling and hovering over the Lobby, Still Light is a material and symbolic reference to the stills once used in the production of spirit: constructed of sheets of copper wrapped around an aluminum structure. The interior of the ‘still’ is gently illuminated suggesting the fermenting process.

A twisting copper sculpture is suspended in the lobby of a Toronto condo.

The ceiling sculpture is an abstraction or reinterpretation of a distillery still, the livelihood of the Gooderham family, in what is currently known to many as Toronto’s Distillery District. By deconstructing the common still, the result is a new, abstracted form that inspires wonder through its complexity and detail, adding another dimension that exposes the exterior and interior of the still simultaneously.

The warmth of the copper is heightened against the cool white marble of the lobby, while the overlapping layers, reflections, and illumination from within draw the viewer closer and create a dynamic visual and sensory experience.
Steeped in history and lore, the historic mansion located at the foot of a new 50-story residential development was once the residence of the Gooderham family. Built in 1884, the mansion had a number of incarnations, more recently, a period when it functioned as a hotel, where a yet unknown writer named Ernest Hemingway resided in the 1920s during his stint with the local newspaper The Toronto Star.

The historic mansion inspired the design concepts for the interiors of the project, both aesthetically and as a point of reference for details within the mansion and the new residential tower. As designers of the development, we were able to ensure the two were harmonious.

Featuring 20 sheets of mirror polished, laser-cut, solid 22 gauge copper, riveted to a ribbed aluminum frame and LED lights the 25-foot long ceiling sculpture that engages the viewer through its metaphorical form, inspiring a narrative that resonates with the history of the storied family and their legacy within the city.

Still Light is intended to be accessible to all, engaging viewers on intellectual, emotional, and physiological levels of experience. The concierge at the building has relayed that there have been numerous inquiries about the piece, inspiring conversation, connection, and building a sense of community around the history of the building and the Gooderham family.

“We worked very hard to give [the designers] a profound understanding of what Tricon House meant and [they] successfully translated our brand aesthetic in design,” says Chief Marketing Officer at Tricon House, Alexandra Blum. “For The Selby, it was a mixture of the vibrant geographical area, honouring the past and incorporating a very layered interior design, like rich caramel leather sofas in the mansion, cow-hide back chairs, and a stunning copper chandelier in the lobby.”

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: July 2019
Project Square Footage: 6’ diameter X 25’ long