Asics brand steps forward with their first Canadian office

Asics, the global athletics and lifestyle brand, wanted their first Canadian office to highlight the range and constant renewal of their company, while conveying their passion and drive for fearless design, colour, and performance. Looking to create an effortlessly cool and inspiring environment to attract and retain world class talent in the area, Asics maintained the loft-like feel of the existing space, leveraging the already exposed structure and deck and filling it with an abundance of natural light.

Interior Designer: Guy Painchaud, ARIDO
Design Firm: iN Studio
Design Team: Heidi Painchaud, ARIDO; Vince Zhao, Intern, ARIDO; Nawleen Kaur, ARIDO
Photography: A-Frame



It was critical for the office to be outfitted with a variety of showrooms, each one highlighting a different aspect of the brand, so that visitors are able to have the full Asics experience. Asics wanted visitors to see their product first and immediately get a sense of the brand’s ethos—an inspirational, forward-thinking, bold company, not afraid to push limits and be future forward. Additional sales spaces clearly highlighting the products were consciously designed to make it easy to change out footwear and apparel at a moment’s notice. The entire office’s design pays tribute to the brand’s prosperous heritage, while still focusing on an illustrious future.

A colour palette of bold dayglo colours and saturated hues, representative of the Asics brand, served as a jumping off point for inspiration, as did the fabrics and finishes used to create Asics’ iconic footwear. Finishes throughout the office are striking, clean, and energetic, like the brand itself, and glass has been incorporated wherever possible to bring light in. 

Matte blue wall with shiny asics branding graphic applied.

In order to accommodate the raised floor specific design elements needed to be implemented to combat the acoustic challenges of the space. To help mitigate noise, materials on the walls and heavily textured greenery were added, turning the challenge into a unique design opportunity. The raised floor also amplifies natural light, bringing as much as possible into the office. 

Cafeteria area at asics Canada with neon sculpture on ceiling, and a wood panelled island with lime green metal stools.

All of the branding and displays were custom-designed for the office. Standout customized elements include the neon Onitsuka Tiger on the ceiling of the café; the lenticular wall at the entrance of the space, featuring a beautiful photograph of Asics footwear in one direction, and Asics’ logo on the other; the large graffiti mural in the café; and the green wall in the showroom corridor, emblazoned with the slogan “I Move Me” – a strong callback to Asics’ mission of a constant active lifestyle.

A hundred and forty year old company gets a 21st century office space

As an insurance company with a long history, HSB BI&I are all about trust, reliability, as well as fair and prompt claims servicing. The design team were engaged to provide workplace strategy and creative leadership to streamline the activity-based workplace and increase inter-department communication.

Interior Designer: Guy Painchaud, ARIDO; Heidi Painchaud, ARIDO

Design Team: Rosemary Ratkaj, ARIDO

Design Firm: iN Studio

Photographer: Ben Rahn, A-Frame

The workplace needed to allow individual work, open workspace, varied sized meeting rooms, as well as a communal kitchen area for staff to come together to enjoy candid conversations.

During preliminary discussions it was determined that enclosed workspaces still need to be accommodated due to in-office meetings between seniors and staff. The planning needed to create harmony among department staff and allow flexibility of staff fluctuations between various departments. Meeting rooms with integrated booking systems were disbursed throughout out the workplace to allow convenient access.

Each floor includes bright, uncluttered conference spaces, distributed evenly for maximum accessibility to all staff. The reception area on the 20th floor was strategically placed to allow focused access to the executive team, as well as Human Resources.

A staircase connects the two floors, for ease of access to the main cafe and pantry on the 19th floor, which will eventually be extended to connect the 18th floor. Vignettes of various boiler parts were commissioned by an artist to celebrate the company’s rich history which stretches all the way back to 1875. Arranged with various found objects (including the CEO’s hockey stick,) the staircase becomes a monochromatic vertical sculpture, reminding employees and clients they are part of a company that has seen a historic past, creative present, and an incredible future. This message is further emphasized in the executive area where a mural with integrated niches showcases more historic possessions.

The finishes and detailing throughout are thoughtful to the company image: high quality, reserved, and very professional, to reflect the understated elegance of this historic, but dignified organization.

Bartlett & Associates enlivens a top litigators HQ with natural light and a showstopping stair

Lenczner Slaght is not only Canada’s preeminent litigation practice leading some of the nation’s most high profile cases but it’s also its most progressive. The Toronto based firm is renowned for its initiatives promoting diversity and inclusivity within its own workforce, as well as in the larger legal community. Interior design studio Bartlett & Associates have now reimagined the firm’s public spaces to embody this uncommon approach.

As an enterprise that influences legal rulings affecting everyday people across the country and around the world, Lenczner Slaght required a reception level that expresses the seriousness of its work. Its interiors needed to instill trust, but also make it clear that the firm is different from its competitors. The design team, led by studio founder Inger Bartlett, responded with a series of timeless spaces, defined by an unexpected material palette, biophilic references, and thoughtful detailing.

When the elevator doors open on the 26th floor, visitors are greeted by a branded wall clad in earth toned slabs of vein and cross cut Eramosa Limestone. “We chose natural materials to lend an aura of calm and serenity to this high pressure environment. The subtle imperfections in the limestone only add to the authenticity and character,” says Bartlett.

The dark stone is framed within the elevator bay by pale back painted glass on the opposite wall, and a brilliant white ceiling fitted with recessed lighting. The row of LED fixtures helps draw visitors forward, to the reception desk and lobby.

Here Bartlett brings nature into the space again, this time in the form of natural light. The designers reconfigured the floor plan and replaced a boardroom wall with a vertical folding partition, allowing the sun to wash through the southwest windows and into the reception lobby. The partition remains open – unless confidential meetings are taking place – which creates an airy feeling and provides ample space to host a variety of company events.

In the lobby and meeting room, custom furnishings designed for the space by Bartlett include a pair of contemporary credenzas and a modular boardroom table. The table is lit from above by a branch-like chandelier – one of the project’s most subtle biophilic references – customized for the project by New York–based Canadian designers Gabriel Scott.

Between the elevators and lobby, a glass, steel and wood stair links the 26th floor with offices above and below. Extending the tranquility of the redesigned space into the firm’s private levels, the stair boasts a sculptural feature wall that rises up from the 25th floor, soaring over 40 feet high. Cut from warm walnut, the wall is an intriguing assembly of vertical wood fins in two wave-like shapes, one soft and rounded, the other sharper and more angular. LED lighting tucked into the bottom of the wall at each level helps amplify the shadow play between the fins, whose forms seem to shift and change as you move towards and past this dynamic plane.

To ensure the stair catches the eye, a striking series of blown-glass suspension lights cascades through all three levels. In stark contrast to the meticulous contours of the walnut installation, the lamps – from Vancouver designer Omer Arbel’s Bocci label – are formed in folds of ceramic fabric to create an amorphous shape with a textural surface. “Not only do the Bocci lights add a sense of balance, but they’re hand-crafted and one of a kind,” says Bartlett. “And that really speaks to what Lenczner Slaght is all about.”

Bold colour blocking and biophilia energize this Ottawa co-working space

Project: GC Workplace Co-working Pilot Project
LWG Design Team: David Gibbons, ARIDO; Melanie Tracey, ARIDO; Kalmn Simmons, Intern, ARIDO

One of five Co-Working Pilot Projects built in the National Capital Area to provide a flexible, drop-in workspace for civil servants that are predominantly teleworking. This unassigned work environment provides an entire office ecosystem to support all the typical activities that occur in a normal workday, from heads-down space to areas for collaboration and everything in between. Our design includes bold colour blocking and biophilic elements.

Clean and green design reflects updated image for Canada’s largest rental community

Ferguslea Properties is the owner of Accora Village, Canada’s largest privately owned rental community. The Ottawa-based company, which is in the process of revitalizing the community, hired Clear interior design to launch the design process with a renovation of the corporate headquarters

Interior Designer: Serina Fraser, Clear Interior Design

Accora Village is a diverse west-end community of 2,400 rental garden homes, town homes, and apartments. The outdated work environment at corporate headquarters needed to be revitalized to better represent the community’s renewed brand and image.

The original headquarters space was anonymous and utilitarian, with low ceilings, fluorescent lighting, and sixties-era pink partitions between nondescript cubicles. It was banged-up and poorly designed.

Clear interior design’s focus was two-fold — to elevate the work culture by improving the structural flow of the office, and to incorporate features and finishes that emphasized a vision of Accora Village as a modern, environmentally responsible community.

Office area with dark gray carpeting.

To improve the structural flow of the headquarters, distinct “zones” were developed. Cubicles were replaced by a more dynamic office environment that incorporated an open work area, as well as closed offices, intimate meeting rooms, a more spacious boardroom, and a welcoming communal kitchen.

The redesign made for a more flexible workspace suited to the many types of meetings and encounters that formed each workday at this busy headquarters. Staff reported that the better flow resulted in an immediate improvement to the workplace culture.

Meeting room with wood topped boardroom table, and living wall.

Finishings throughout the headquarters subtly accent the company’s green focus. A thriving plant wall takes centre stage in the main boardroom, with barnboard feature walls and a striking wood veneer on office doors completing the theme. Concrete wall tiles and charcoal hexagonal floor tiles further accentuate that connection to nature and natural products. Taken as a whole, the colour palette is sophisticated and calming, a subtle coming together of greys, browns, black and white.

The redesign of the corporate headquarters marked the first stage in the company’s rebranding of both itself and its community. Clear interior design built this first phase, with a detailed strategic design plan to revitalize the homes within the greater community.

Eschewing convention without ignoring tradition

Several recent projects by members established spaces for businesses in traditional domains, including law and finance. Despite their established fields of expertise, each of the four clients sought spaces that avoided conventional spaces and created modern backdrops for their highly skilled teams.

Project: Axiom Toronto Office
Interior Designer: Stephanie Kamburis, ARIDO
Design Firm: Southside Design
Photographer: Doublespace Photography

Axiom’s innovative approach to the practice of law has filtered over to the design of their new Toronto space. Providing legal services remotely, or in client’s offices, the international firm slashes overheads while offering an alternative work environment to lawyers. The design team paired rustic elements like the existing timber posts with elegant pale calacatta marble in the reception desk. Coloured resin panels are suspended from the ceiling to add movement and shape to the space. Sustainable white oak flooring, sourced from Quebec, rounds out the maturity of the space, without the usual markers of a traditional law firm.

Project: Rubach Wealth Office
Interior Designer: Olga Evstifeeva, ARIDO
Design Firm: Stoa Design Collective
Photographer: Steve Tsai

A boutique wealth management firm, Rubach Wealth sought a space that challenged traditional notions of how a wealth management firm should look. On the bare concrete shell, the design team fully fit out the space with two free-standing architectural elements, finished in tambour wood panelling which also serve as workstations and storage, and enclose a cozy double sided-fireplace. The space boasts an elegant palette of natural woods and textures, while accents of deep hues balance the luminous interior. A high standard of craftsmanship and custom elements upholds the firm’s values and instills confidence and trustworthiness.

Project: Toronto Law Firm
Interior Designer: Inga Kantor, ARIDO
Design Firm: Savills Studley Services Inc.
Photographer: Bob Gundu

A well-established firm with a global reach had several spaces that were underutilized in their Toronto office. In this redesign, they provided a specific list of their requirements to the design team, including meeting rooms, space for their law library, and fifteen offices for partners and associates. The Toronto branch also had amassed a substantial collection of contemporary art throughout the years and wanted to display the office’s collection on a modern backdrop, which also conveyed the dignified nature of the firm.

Using full height glass walls lets natural light to filter through the workplace and uphold the clean aesthetic. The majority of finishes and surfaces in the space were chosen in a natural palette, to let the art collection take centre stage, while bright blue punches of upholstered chairs add interest without overwhelming the space with colour.

A rustic industrial palette stylizes the modern office without replicating a chicken coop

The brand new head office of Chicken Farmers of Canada, located in the nation’s capital, is a work environment quite atypical of the usual office vista. As leaders of the sustainable Canadian chicken industry, CFC works closely with farmers throughout the country to manage environmentally responsible farming that in return ensures the production of quality trusted protein. While continuously implementing the research and development of food safety standards and ethical animal care programs, these leaders strive to maintain a transparent alliance of Canadian Chicken Farmers.

Interior Designer: Liz Miller, ARIDO
Design Firm: Parallel 45 Design Group LTD.
Design Team: Jessica Vagner, Intern ARIDO
Project Photography: Justin Van Leeuwen

A recurring presence of ash wood is carried throughout the space: reclaimed wood planks clad feature walls and coffered ceilings, linear wood lights are suspended above workstations, while low ash panels connect each work area. The reclaimed wood is carried into the kitchen area where ash shelves are housed on industrial black plumbing pipes, one of the many black accents that occurs in the office.

Modern white breakroom with colourful chairs.

Deep hues of forest green, rusty orange and gold throughout emit a moody essence. Warm textures and materials effectively contrast the client’s desire for industrial like features, such as the organically etched carpet that is accented by a concrete-look luxury vinyl tile. To enhance industrial vibes, faux red brick panelling suggests the presence of shared exposed brick party walls, appearing weathered and rustic.

Brick panelled seating area with gray couches.

Each collaboration space and touch down area is complete with enticing accent lighting: oversized acoustic drums are suspended over sitting areas to muffle chatter; large black and gold pendants hover over the communal island; the organic swag light chandelier in the kitchen’s wooden nook provides an intimate glow above its company below.

Hints of chicken memorabilia are strategically placed throughout the space to reiterate the rural farm motifs: baby chicks appear on faded wallpaper running from floor to ceiling, a local barn in monochrome film overlays the large boardroom glass, and among others, branded chicken throw pillows are placed throughout.  

Office filing area with forest green wall and suspended wood panelled strip light.

As you walk through the new Chicken Farmers coop, you are filled with a peculiar charm, as this is no typical office, but an environment that lives and breathes the passion of their work.

Raw and industrial vibe gets this startup accelerator in top form

DMZ, or Digital Media Zone is a start-up accelerator at Ryerson University, where founders can get support for the next steps with their burgeoning businesses. 

Interior Designer: Siavash Mahdieh, ARIDO

Design Firm: PULSINELLI

Photographer: Steve Tsai 

Designed to engage the vibrant, young community of founders, who also need a formal space to host potential customers, investors, and experts, the space balances these two needs in the design. 

The gray wall panelling and minimal aesthetic captures the raw spirit of the start-up culture but is attractive and comfortable for business-minded guests. There are several intimate seating options for guests in the high-traffic reception area which can serve the start-ups in the building. 

A special visual emblem welcomes guests to the DMZ, and also becomes an area where guests can take photos and turn them into shareable moments for social media.

Across from the elevators, we created a large dark wood canopy with an open woven pattern to define the reception and seating area. Dark wood vinyl on the floor under the canopy, contrasts the soft white floor in the rest of the space, and demarcates this cozy nook. 

On the left side of the reception, the waiting area is furnished with colourful seatbelt chairs and concrete coffee tables to further convey the playful and raw nature of the space. 

The space lacks a window, or other natural light source, so the design team added diffused halo lighting around the gray wood wall panelling that wraps the walls. It provides a sense of lightness and visually connects the different areas. 

Movement is added with the reflections created by the oversized, mirrored 3D DMZ signage that is positioned in the main seating area.

An interactive digital bulletin board welcomes guests off the elevators, and is housed in a sculptural wood wall. The natural oak, cut in geometric stripes, also wraps the reception desk, which links the two elements together. 

A secondary lounge area was created beside the corridor that accesses the cafeteria. The wall in the area is cladd with custom upholstered panels to improve the acoustic quality in the space.

To encourage guests to take selfies to share on social media, we introduced the “Toronto Gallery”, a series of white painted 3D letters mounted on the wall panels. The letters spelling Toronto are sliced in half and positioned to be read from the reception area.

The vibrant space reflects the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the start-ups and creates a strong identity for DMZ.

A contemporary space for a contemporary law firm

As Canada’s leading entrepreneurial and transactional business law firm, Wildeboer Dellelce LLP is committed to being a pioneering force for legal practice innovation. Their ambitious culture is what has driven the design team to create a dynamic, contemporary space. The trappings of a typical law firm, dark finishes and little to no collaborative space, were transformed into a modern layout with a colourful palette that exceeded their expectations. The new space was designed for efficiency, allowing each floor to serve multiple purposes while creating seamless traffic flow and connection between lawyers and clients.

Interior Designer: John Tanfield, ARIDO
Design Firm: SGH Design Partners
Design Team: Mireille Metwalli, ARIDO; Jillian Warren, ARIDO
Project Photographer: Scott Norsworthy

A key design challenge was renovating the full three floors to transform the current office into a progressive space that can adapt to the user needs, provide meeting spaces, alternate workplaces, and event space while respecting a set budget. Number one on the client’s list of needs was the pool table that stands proudly in the reception space. It symbolizes the vibrant and charismatic culture that the company has championed from the start, and is visible to anyone who enters the space. A variety of furniture solutions were planned for each floor to encourage employees to move into different working environments throughout the day.

The design team worked on this project from the real estate review process. With that early start, decided to remain in their current office but renovate the space. All three floors were renovated, which modernized the office into a playful yet sophisticated space. The 8th floor is client-facing, dedicated to meetings and events, and designed to make a lasting impression. When arriving at reception, guests are greeted by a bright open space filled with light and texture, created by the sharp angles of the reception desk which contrasts the soft colour palette.

Private meeting rooms surrounded by glazing flank both sides of reception, creating seamless transparency on the 8th floor. Ceiling treatments provide variety and animation of the event space, as well as an illuminated light wall that runs along the length of the reception. The 9th and 10th floors are connected by an existing sculpture-like staircase, which allows lawyers to connect seamlessly and privately. When visitors take their first steps off the elevator they are instantly greeted by an energetic servery designed to encourage conversation. These floors are primarily used for partner and clerk offices, as well as administrative support. Both floors are consistent with the radiant and transparent look and feel of the overall space.

Odeyto provides a home away from home for Indigenous students at Seneca College

Interior Designer: Valerie Gow, ARIDO
Design Firm: Gow Hastings Architects with Two Row Architects
Project Photographer: Tom Arban

Odeyto, the new home for the First Peoples @ Seneca Newnham Campus, is intended to provide a safe and recognizable space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike while attending Seneca College. Often, Indigenous students have left their home communities for the first time and travelled to unknown urban landscapes to pursue their education. The design of Odeyto (Anishinaabe word for ‘good journey’) reflects and acknowledges this. It was created as a home away from home, a place where students can gather, not only to practice their traditions, but also to find new friendships and family while away from their communities.

Conceptually, the addition and renovation was inspired by the image of a canoe pulling up to a dock — making a stop at Seneca College to gather knowledge before continuing on life’s journey. The addition’s canoe-like form is “docked” alongside the contrasting rigid lines of the existing precast concrete building. As the only building on campus with an organic curvilinear design, the “canoe” has a distinctive presence, announcing its importance through its form.

Exterior view of the Odeyto building.

Striking when viewed from the outside, the building’s curves create a warm, womb-like interior. The structure alludes to the Haudenasaunee longhouse, a traditional reference further reinforced by glass entrances on the east and west, where two red doors, aligned to the summer solstice, honour the missing and murdered indigenous women. The building incorporates aspects of traditional knowledge drawn from many other Indigenous cultures across Turtle Island.

Neon channel sculpture by Joi T. Arcand, 'Don't be shy' in Cree sylabics.

In alignment with sunrise ceremonies common to many Indigenous Nations, the angle of the “canoe” lines up with the rising sun on the summer solstice — an acknowledgement of rebirth, spring, and our connection to the earth. From an architectural point of view, this simple but meaningful move breaks away from the colonial grid that dominates on Seneca’s Newnham Campus.

Wood predominates in the interior, reinforcing the analogy to a canoe. The interior of the building consists of two distinct spaces: The former classroom has been remodeled into a warmly lit work area with a low ceiling, where students can use computers, work with tutors, or speak with a counsellor. Beyond this, in the new purpose-built addition, the main lounge is a generous space for gatherings. Its high, curved ceiling is supported by glue-laminated rib structures. Their connections are visibly expressed, in celebration of the craft and beauty of the building’s construction — much as a birch bark canoe’s beauty is manifested through its construction, not decoration. Thin and light, the 28 glue-laminated ribs resemble the ribs of a canoe or mammal. The number is a nod to the number of days in one cycle of the moon.

The renovation part of this project offers a bridge between the rigours of post-secondary education and the familiarity of culture. It’s a space that provides the necessities of academic life — counsellors’ offices, study space, a place to print — and, at the same time, a safe harbour, a “dock” where a canoe can stay a while.

The design team also worked with advisors from Two Row Architects, a native-owned architecture firm which focuses on “guiding the realignment of mainstream ways of thinking on their journey towards Indigenous ways of knowing, being, design and architecture.“

Panorama of Odeyto interior with students sitting around a table and computers.

Gow Hastings says, “Design features influenced by this knowledge include the structure’s directionality, alignment with celestial cycles, cultural observances, value of materials, tactility, craft, expression of structure, and extension into the surrounding landscape.”