This Bird’s got people squawking!

New to Toronto’s revitalized Queens Quay Terminal, the one and only Joe Bird has quickly become a popular hang-out for local foodies, and a must-see destination for visitors.

Interior Designer: Joseph Persia, ARIDO
Design Firm: Green Tangerine Design Inc.
Photographer: Riley Snelling

Maybe it’s the can’t miss, 1980’s RV parked within the façade (highly ‘grammable), which serves as the restaurant’s take-out component. Perhaps it’s the interior’s rusty, boho vibe overlooking the lake? Or, the juicy chicken it serves up? This Bird’ has got people squawking!

The design team was engaged in the early stages to create an identity for this non-chain eatery on a budget, of course. The 2,500 square foot unit was uninspiring, to say the least, situated dead centre between two other establishments in the Terminal. The client tasked Persia and team with creating a ‘one of a kind’ experience; a ‘staple’ restaurant and bar unlike what Toronto has seen before.

The designers met this challenge head-on with an unexpected take on the ‘typical’ mall eatery. It all started with a wild vision by the project’s designer to incorporate and repurpose the aforementioned RV and park it well within the restaurant’s footprint. The design team fit out the RV as the restaurant’s take-out counterpart, that also serves as a focal point, grabbing the attention of locals and tourists alike. A take-out space was not in the client’s criteria- but they immediately fell in love with the idea! The Joe Bird RV can now be found on a multitude of social media posts from around the world.

Exterior view of Joe Bird Restaurant with van and neon signage.

The interior was designed to follow suit with bright, funky and boho styling. An exaggerated custom neon sign hangs over the large concrete and reclaimed metal oval-shaped bar below. Tables and most of the seating within were custom designed and fabricated with mixed, reclaimed materials. Graffiti tags and edgy art can be seen on the restaurant’s walls and above on duct work and mechanics.

All existing finishes in the Terminal were incorporated- some worth noting, repurposing the existing terrazzo floor, and unmasking columns, walls, and bulkheads previously hidden under built frames. Custom millwork and furniture were constructed with reclaimed wood and metal; all of which were locally sourced.

An 11th-hour request from the client to create an ice cream shop within was answered with a colourful, graffiti-bombed nook from floor to ceiling. ‘The Fix’, not only serves as Joe Bird’s dessert component but has a garage door that opens directly to the Harbourfront Trail. With its vibrant ‘pop’ of art and colour, it’s hard to miss!

'The Fix' ice cream bar at Joe Bird with handpainted graffitti inspired signage.

Reports from the design team indicate Joe Bird 2 is currently in the works …

Three different moods for three distinct spaces at Victor Restaurant

Interior Designer: Allen Chan

Design Firm: DesignAgency

Photographer: Lisa Petrole

Hotel Le Germain Mercer Street in Toronto invited the design team to transform its on-site restaurant, Victor. With the multitude of surrounding condos, this district is quickly becoming a neighbourhood in its own right – within five years, almost 40,000 people will live within a two-block radius- and Le Germain wanted Victor to become a destination for morning coffee, business lunches, and late-night dining.

Before, the space had no connections with the street, and the only entrance to the restaurant was through the lobby. The design was dark, uninviting, and lacked flexibility, and the venue only functioned as a nighttime establishment.

With the redesign, Victor has a distinct and cohesive brand identity. Now, a highly fluid space comprises a dining area with leather banquettes, a chef’s table in a side alcove and open counter beyond, an intimate bar-lounge, and a cafe with communal harvest table – all of which meld and transition seamlessly into the hotel’s lobby, which the hotel also redesigned to complement the new hospitality space.

Custom-designed specialty lighting was central to setting a new ambiance – one that is approachable, universal, and versatile enough to attract both hotel guests, daytime business visitors, corporate event attendees, and special occasion groups taking part in the city’s adjacent entertainment district for concerts, theatre, screenings, and more.

To impart a sense of vitality and character to the restaurant, the design team hung a custom-designed chandelier of brass tubing, strung with white globes, layered and rotating at different angles. The eye-catching fixture swoops above diners and is visible from the street, drawing interest from passersby. It glows in contrast to the gravel-grey ceiling, and visually drops the ceiling height to a more intimate level.

Photographer: Lisa Petrole

Entering the intimate lounge, hanging wall lights made from brass tubing and white globes maintain a connection to the feature chandelier in the dining room. LED-lit shelves are artfully decorated with crystal, silverware, and bronze and gilt chargers, and deco lamps line the bar to give extra lighting for guests. Even the inevitable television monitors disappear into smoky mirrors when not in use.

In the cafe, a bright palette creates an airy, daytime feeling. White marble counters and a fluted barista station with a glass display case heighten luminosity. Discreet rows of pendant lights hang over the harvest table and add to the guest experience.

Photographer: Lisa Petrole

Throughout, fabrics and materials were chosen for their ability to absorb and reflect light, including bronze accents, natural stone, warm wood shelving and millwork, plus playful patterned concrete tiling in the cafe floor, soft sage green tabletops, and serpentine banquettes upholstered in tufted, peacock-blue waxed leather.

Mason Studio’s redesign of La Banane is classic with a touch of whimsy

On a trip to France, Chef Brandon Olsen learned the idiom, “Tu as la banane”, which means to be happy, or pleased, and he has been smiling ever since. To Chef, the banana has always been an emblem of happiness and contentment.

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

Design Team: Marti Hawkins, Intern, ARIDO

Design Firm: Mason Studio

Photographer: Angus Fergusson

Mason Studio integrated this sentiment and used it as a guide for the guest experience and interior design for new the 1,800 sq. ft. Toronto restaurant that specializes in French cuisine. The existing space had several identifiable design elements that required a complete transformation to rejuvenate the space and differentiate itself from the previous iteration. Within a narrow client budget and construction schedule, all exposed surfaces, furniture, and millwork were fully repurposed.

The new atmosphere is one of casual elegance where guests can comfortably savor the decadence and formalities of fine French cuisine. Classically inspired references form the foundation of the interior, while artistic gestures, such as a sculptural ceramic monkey, add a charming absurdity. Like the menu, the overall environment at La Banane is rooted in traditions but is distinctly modern.

Three separate dining areas were created by utilizing the client’s personal art collection, using a diverse colour palette, and modifying the seating types. The design team relied on readily available found  objects, materials, and lighting to support the new interior environment. They sourced antique pieces and commissioned in-situ artworks to add dynamism and interest.

At La Banane, contemporary art and saturated colour mingle with hallmarks of classic bistro-style dining and create a stunning backdrop for a modern dining experience.

Flexibility is the key at this museum restaurant

Open for lunch service, the existing restaurant at the Gardiner Museum was relatively unknown, attracting mostly elderly patrons. Upon entry, spectacular city views were overshadowed by a cold, uninviting aesthetic, and the narrative of Canada’s National Museum of Ceramics was lost. Many people knew the space for its quality event service; with the ability to clear the space and create a spectacular setup for events with off-site rentals.

Interior Designer: Dyonne Fashina, ARIDO
Design Firm: Denizens of Design
Photographer: Larissa Issler

The new restaurant partner – The Food Dudes – provided a clear mandate – create a space that can easily convert between daytime restaurant service and evening events, and engage a new demographic while keeping the existing patronage happy.

Our goal was to provide the flexibility of multi-purpose with the aesthetic of a fixed-in-place restaurant.

The new design reconnects the space to the Museum’s focus while paying respect to the building’s architectural features. This meaningful concept influenced all aspects of the restaurant from the food and plating, to the branding and name. Clay itself is at the root of every detail, with inspiration taken from its properties and the process of clay making.

The minerals of clay tell the colour story, with rich terracotta hues, stoneware neutrals, and vibrant porcelain whites. Turned wood furniture and organic forms make subtle reference to the artifacts and tooling typically found inside a ceramist’s studio. 

Man serving wine behing a modern looking bar

Perhaps the most compelling addition is the custom bar. The front bar is clad entirely in durable commercial grade porcelain slabs, while the back bar integrates display opportunities to further extend the museum’s shop offerings – both a sales tool and an aesthetic choice. Smart planning decisions were implemented to create an optimal layout for the restaurant that could easily adapt to events. Modularity and compactness were key considerations due to the strict one-hour conversion timeframe. Existing storage was limited so locking storage solutions were integrated into the bar millwork.

Furniture and custom elements were strategically selected for optimization of storage space and efficiency of the teardown process. Folding dividers and mobile planters act to provide privacy and delineation within the space without the permanence of fixed partitions. Soft seating in vibrant hues define the bar/lounge area, while a more muted palette is used in the open dining area. 

All chairs stack on dollies, tables are flip-top with nesting legs, and the host and services stations are mobile on casters. These pieces adapt well for use during cocktail parties, lectures, and wedding receptions. It was important to have the functionality of multipurpose furniture, without the mundane aesthetic. The end result is a remarkably versatile space that does not compromise on design.

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.

Light, colour, and nature’s splendour inspire the design of this Kamloops casino

Interior Designers: Ronald Wong, ARIDO; Gordon Mackay, ARIDO
Design Firm: mackaywong
Project Photographer: David Whittaker

Inspiration abounds in the forests and rivers of British Columbia but expressing the splendour of nature in a former big-box store was the challenge placed before the mackaywong team in the design of a new casino. This project repurposed an existing dormant big box store of 55,000 square feet. More than a gaming facility, this is a destination for the citizens of Kamloops B.C., re-imagining the landscape of “Beautiful British Columbia” through a series of inventive elements.

Carpet with a large scale floral pattern in casino lobby with a light fixture of concentric rings is suspended above.

Uniting the facility is a central corridor that gives way to the gaming floor on one side and the restaurant and bar opposite. A custom-built colour-changing river of light winds through the space while wood pillars, a nod to surrounding forests, frame the grand hall and offer glimpses into the gaming floor beyond. The gaming floor contains 500 slot machines, twenty table games, two bars, a lounge, two patios, and a poker mezzanine with a luxury private salon.

Overhead view of the gaming floor with video gambling machines.

The design team raised the floor level to run the wiring and electrical required for a gaming facility, and covered the gaming floor with a custom carpet inspired by local flora.

Lighting was incorporated creatively throughout the space starting from the river of light in the entrance corridor, a central chandelier in the rotunda, LED rings surrounding the gaming floor trees, through to the large ceiling of glass goblets glittering in the luxury restaurant. An interactive curved video wall encircles the central rotunda, engaging guests in an immersive digital landscape and providing a dramatic entrance to the gaming floor.

Carpet with a large scale floral pattern in casino lobby with a light fixture of concentric rings is suspended above.

The use of texture and colour throughout, along with regional motifs, and a hospitality driven approach to gaming combine to create an artful and memorable experience at this casino.

Village markets serve as inspiration for this modern juice shop

Village Juicery is a Toronto-based producer and distributor of raw, 100% organic cold-pressed juice and related plant-based food and beverage products. With five existing street-front locations throughout the city, Village Juicery has established a customer focused and community-driven reputation, with an emphasis on education supported by registered nutritionists.

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

Design Firm: Mason Studio

Photographer: Scott Norsworthy

In their new location in Yorkdale Shopping Centre, the first to leave the streetscape, the space required the same atmosphere and brand experience as other locations, while meeting the demands of a high-volume store.

In their previous stores around Toronto, specific finishes and details have become markers of Village Juicery’s interior environments. Humble materials including naturally oiled wood, soapstone and repurposed industrial materials reference the raw and unprocessed nature of the products. The design team set out to maintain this established palette while incorporating new materials to meet higher standards for durability and maintenance.

Terracotta chimney flue liners clad the bar face and merchandise shelving, adding warmth and natural tones to the space, while the integrity of solid maple wood and natural soapstone are brought together with thoughtful joinery techniques to reflect the purity of the products.

A textured porcelain tile covers the wall surfaces, emulating corrugated metal and provides the refinement and durability that the site requires. Using village markets and exterior environments as inspiration, the floors are a natural slate stone in moss green to compliment the rich terracotta and maple wood tones. This interior/exterior environment is further emphasized by the awning that clads the exterior facade of the shop front.

California cool meets British eclecticism in this serene resort

For their 45 room resort venture, the clients envisioned the modernity of California beach houses with British eclecticism.

Interior Designer: Eric McClelland, ARIDO

Design Firm: Fleur-de-Lis Interior Design Inc.

Photographer: Nhuri Bashir

Allowing the cliffside topography, climate, and budget to dictate the strategy, the client’s personal preferences of roomy bathrooms, luxurious bedrooms, and exterior sitting areas guided the details.

The design team addressed the long-term life of the resort by sourcing durable finishes and moisture-resistant millwork, incorporating hurricane shutters and awnings for emergency lockdown. Tasteful beachy elements were added: nautical lamps, alongside wicker and teak furniture, keeping the focus on the breathtaking ocean views.