Distance is no obstacle for this interior design project

OpenText’s vision was to create a major European Hub at their Reading, UK premises. The project consolidates two sites and expands OpenText’s current occupancy from two to three floors, linking to the ground floor for greater brand presence, as well as greater access to natural light and exterior views (including the protected wetlands nearby) which contribute to employee health and wellbeing.

Interior Designer: Lisa Fulford-Roy, ARIDO
Design Team: Winnie Leung, ARIDO; Erin Armstrong, ARIDO; Mhay Trinidad, Intern, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK

Intended to accommodate more client interaction and a consistent employee experience, OpenText focused on expanding the reception area, adding an executive boardroom and lounge, designing a technology-enabled meeting complex and integrating employee social gathering space and food services.

The existing stair was reactivated to encourage employee activity and vertical circulation. The ground floor incorporates several informal meeting spaces to encourage collaboration away from the quieter work areas on the first and second floors. As a refresh of the first and second floor had been recently completed, existing elements were incorporated with the new workplace design.

By engaging local employee ambassadors through vision sessions, the design team identified and integrated regional nuances. As the project location is 5,600 km away and separated by a 5 hour time difference, collaboration with the local project team was key to the success of the project. The Toronto team worked closely with the local client to fully understand specific needs of local users, like benching stations which were included in the solution, maintaining consistency with the existing workspace.

The finishes in the new workspace and Town Hall infuse the space with energy, with more vibrant OpenText brand colours introduced through brand murals, accent wall colours and some furniture pieces. Client-facing areas are more sophisticated, with muted colour tones, warm wood finishes, copper and brass pendant fixtures and marble transaction tops on the reception desk.

Employee breakout space with white tables and high top counter with modern lamps hung overhead.

The existing spiral staircase connects the new space to the old, encouraging movement between the two. Teamwork was essential due to the project location; the team worked closely with our design-build counterparts to ensure the design vision was executed per our specifications.

This Silicon Valley office embodies the best in workplace design

Open Text, like many offices, has recently announced a shift to remote work due to COVID-19. However, the project team still completed the work for this space, and it’s worthwhile to share their approach.

The client for this project, Open Text believes that its values are key to its past and future success. As a Canadian company that was expanding to Silicon Valley, it did not want an office that mimicked their competitors’ ‘adult playground’ spaces. Instead, OpenText wanted this new office to embody values of variety, wellness and connection.

Interior Designer: Danielle Leon, ARIDO
Design Team: Jenna Walsh, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK
Photographer: Tom Arban, Emily Hagopian

The design team created a space where ninety-nine percent of open workstations have a view of the outdoors and seventy-nine percent situated within natural light. Additionally, the planning and architectural execution provides employees with easy access to refuel stops, hydration stations, and integrates biophilic design elements to boost employee wellness.

View of employee canteen with yellow cabinetry and glass wall with black trim.

Variety required that the OpenText team could work throughout the office in several distinct spaces. The design blends a communication stair, work cafe, lounge areas, traditional meeting rooms, scrum room, games room, focused workspaces with sit/stand desks, walk stations and tech-free recharge rooms. Open collaboration zones occur away from desk areas, to create privacy for focused work and comfort for collaboration.

The project team made a conscious decision to create a wide range of spaces that feel more like a hotel lobby or local cafe than a traditional corporate office. These fusion spaces have all the tools required for users to be productive, along with the added benefit of being emotionally comforting.

View from bottom of the stairs stone steps lead you up to a curving black staircase.

Lastly, OpenText’s history and its Canadian heritage are built into the office design. A perforated metal screen pattern displays the foundational software code on which Open Text was built. Meeting room names are a marriage of Canadian locations and code. The design team commissioned a world map made from keyboard keys to speak to Open Text development teams coding around the world. The office design keeps sight of Open Text’s Canadian roots, while they continue to grow worldwide.

Ultra cool offices for Vice Toronto HQ

Interior Designer: Allen Chan
Design Firm: DesignAgency
Photographer: Adrien Williams

A rambunctious, audacious and youthful energy is the spirit of the Vice brand, and they sought an office space that reflected these qualities. Attuned to the needs of its client, the design team infused a decommissioned factory with the informal, relaxed vibe of a classic cigar lounge, then stealthily layered technology, lighting, and sound equipment throughout.

Upon entry, you are immersed in the vivid world of the Vice brand. The industrial lobby captures, through giant panes of steel-framed glass, the hive of activity throughout. Unexpected touches, like the neon sign, give a taste of Vice’s sense of quirky irreverence. That irreverence intensifies immediately beyond the lobby, where visitors step into a fully stocked saloon.

Adjacent to the bar, the Bear Room is both a meeting area and the signature interview space, where sound equipment and lighting can be optimized for filming. The room is elevated a foot from the rest of the office for both poetic and practical reasons. The podium makes visitors feel important; the added lift helps with on-camera sightlines.

Most of the office is open concept, with employees at reconfigurable desks with optional privacy screens. Lighting, augmented by giant east facing windows, can be adjusted for filming. Walnut-and-glass-clad cubes float down one side of the office, separating the kitchen from the main space. The separation instills a sense of intimacy for the eating area, useful because it doubles as a set for on-camera cooking demos.

Other intimate break-out areas include boardrooms lit with custom lighting that carries the theme of stealthily integrated tech: the cable channels are cast into the concrete floor and discretely run into the tables. Editing suites are completely sealed from the office bustle, while a screening room provides a space for unwinding and watching the results of the office’s frenetic creativity.

Connectivity, evolution of radio and employee engagement informed the design of this radio floor

With radio and communications innovation being a foundational characteristic of their company, the client continued to think outside the box when relocating their radio studios to the second floor of their Bloor Street location. The space bridges the gap between two campus buildings and combines three functions: radio studios, workspace and an employee cafe.

Open employee cafeteria space with pale wood floors and a accent wall with company history.

Interior Designer: Laura Jones, ARIDO
Design Team: Adriana Pietropaolo, ARIDO; Sharon Turner, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK
Project Photographer: Tom Arban, Karl Hiplolito

The design team created an isolated raised floor system that protects against vibrations from the TTC route located below, and exterior wall and window treatments mute day-to-day sounds of the surrounding urban environment. Two high-tech radio studios are positioned as focal points in the space, inspiring interaction while still providing necessary privacy for radio talent with tinted windows. The adjacent agile workspace is designed to support a 24-hour work day for employees.

The cafe space is designed as a connecting boulevard with the café on one side, and the studios on the other, continuously inviting and engaging its users. With an acoustic operable wall, the centre performance lounge lends itself to performances that can be broadcast via the studios or opened to the cafe for a public performance. Neutral, fresh and contemporary architectural finishes were selected to accentuate the public-facing radio studios and additional acoustic elements were incorporated into this vibrant space.

The new staircase connects the ground floor to the second floor, something the client requested specifically, enhancing and facilitating the user experience through the space while engaging them with a display of the company’s radio artifacts. The three spaces are tied together by repeating angular elements inspired by radio waves and the use of copper accents that recall radio batteries.

The space is used throughout the day for planned and spontaneous meetings and the renovation of the studios has provided one of the most technologically advanced radio spaces in Canada. In fulfilling the client’s needs, the designers created a lively, dynamic space that has quickly become the most popular spot on campus.

Fresh, clean, and modern design dictates this updated real estate office

This project is the creation of a new 20,000 square foot head office for a Canadian real estate firm, which chose to relocate to a new floor in an existing building that they own and manage. The mandate was to create a fresh, clean, and modern environment which reflects the company as a leader in the market, and guide the transition from private offices to an open concept environment for everyone.

Interior Designer: Victoria Horobin, ARIDO
Design Team: Sherry Bilenduke, ARIDO
Design Firm: KBH Interior Design Inc.
Project Photographer: Richard Johnson

The design team led the staff through a change management process, conducting meetings with small groups to establish goals and address fears. Following these meetings, the design team drafted a set of standards and concept materials to illustrate the new solution and presented them at a town hall for the entire organization.

A new set of workplace standards were created, which took all staff from private offices into a new open office environment. New workstations were much more open, but the overall footprint size of 6′ x 7′ matched their previous station size. Storage was minimized and ergonomic features and height-adjustable work surfaces added to the new stations.

This new design provides access to daylight for each employee, and many alternative meeting and work spaces, including meeting rooms, focus rooms, phone rooms and staff lounges.

A neutral palette of shades of grey was warmed up with walnut accents in workstation surfaces, a custom reception desk and panelled wall in the reception area, and an intricate wood screen that separates the coffee lounge from open work areas. Different carpet patterns add texture, warmth and acoustical properties to the space.

An updated HVAC system improves the air quality in the space, while employees have sit-stand options at their desks, and a central employee canteen encourages socializing and taking a proper lunch break.

This office is a beehive of activity without all the bee clichés

Before founding ecobee in 2007, CEO Stuart Lombard was on a mission to reduce his family’s carbon footprint and save money. When his family returned home one winter day to find their house freezing, he knew there had to be a better way to both conserve energy and save money. Being an engineer, it was then that he decided to build his own thermostat. It was on that day, that ecobee was born.

Interior Designer: Tulin Artan, ARIDO
Design Firm: Ray Inc.
Project Photographer: David Whittaker

The relocation to the old Bank of Canada building at 250 University Avenue in combination with a limited budget, necessitated trade-offs to create the loft style look. Ecobee’s thermostat is marketed as helping customers to “maximize comfort and savings without compromising your lifestyle.” The design followed suit.

Workspace at eco bee with desks next to walls and open meeting areas opposite.

Lombard and his team sought a space that didn’t have the traditional corporate office feel, had a large lunchroom style space for town hall meetings, and no obvious ‘beehive’ imagery. A subtle space that captured the start-up company’s casual, young vibe was their goal.

Ray Inc incorporated their key brand elements like simplicity, a sense of play and approachability with an industrial tone. Reclaimed wood and steel also emphasize the sustainability element.

The design team placed workstations closely together to foster ideas and exchange, which allowed a front-facing client area and lunchroom to have more space. Every employee has access to natural light and views of the outdoors.

A project for this company would only serve half its purpose if it neglected the environmental impact. The design team re-used existing carpet under the workstations, linear office lighting was repurposed, while a newly exposed concrete floor was polished to appeal to the client’s appetite for raw materials.

According to their CFO, Jon Prosser, “The designer was fully committed to us throughout the project and expertly interpreted our vision to create a unique office design truly embodying the ecobee brand. They sourced, scheduled and managed the entire project for us completing it within budget and timeframe. We were thrilled with the outcome and would not hesitate to recommend them or use them for future projects.”

Booking.com’s Queen West office reflects their customers and their staff

Regardless of their location, Booking.com’s offices incorporate a global, travel theme that pays homage to their country and home city. The eclectic Queen West area houses their new offices with a design that highlights the brand as a destination company with a strong local footprint.

Interior Designer: Annie Bergeron, ARIDO; Jessica Baird, ARIDO
Design Firm: Gensler
Design Team: Filo Costa, ARIDO; Willem Berends, ARIDO

Working within a strict budget, the design team created an arrival area that highlights the brand as a destination company with a strong local understanding. Leveraging the spectacular northeastern views to some of Toronto’s best architecture was a clever way to establish a sense of place, without added cost. Along with locally sourced furniture and accessories, the reception area is an immediate success.

The building’s LEED raised floors, high ceilings, and existing lighting also minimized fit-out costs. Semi-enclosed areas subtly reference icons of Canadian design, with Hudson’s Bay blanket striping and meeting booths using TTC red upholstery. The space was designed to attract the desired workforce: diverse, multi-lingual, well-travelled and hip; also, a true reflection of their customers.

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.”