This Brampton dispensary is all about the buds and the bees

Hibuzz Cannabis is a new and rising star in retail cannabis. They are a family-owned dispensary chain proudly located in Brampton, ON. With a love of their local community and a desire to create a great experience for their customers, Hibuzz Cannabis was born.

Three years after recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada, dispensaries are their own subset of retail outlets, which must meet certain space requirements in order to operate in Canada. As a Registered Interior Designer, I worked with the Hibuzz team to create a space that met the local laws while upholding their brand.

In Ontario, cannabis businesses must be separate from all other businesses, and cannot include an outdoor area. They also can’t be accessed from other businesses or in a shared retail space, and the area where the cannabis is stored must prohibit the public from entering.

Finally, cannabis and accessories must be displayed in a way that they cannot be seen by a young person, even from outside the store, so many stores have creative solutions to cover windows and have special screens to prevent the product from being seen from outdoors.

The vision for the store design was to offer an accessible and welcoming shopping environment to a community where cannabis is legal and regulated. The cash area uses simple wood joinery and soft lighting for effect, displays are clear and open to offer customers a seamless experience.

As a family-owned business, budget and timelines were very tight. Overall, a fantastic store was created and the brand has big plans for more locations

What We Really Do: Drawings Edition

Sure, you need drawings for a renovation (or maybe you didn’t know that?), but what are they really?

Drawings are an opportunity to try out the design and work out the kinks in a project before it’s built.

There I said it. Shortest blog ever!

Ok, ok, so maybe you have some follow-up questions to that. If you didn’t know you needed drawings to do a renovation (assuming you don’t need a permit- because we’re not going to entertain the idea that you’re passing up the opportunity to protect your biggest investment– for some of you literally- to save a bit of time or money). “But my brother did a renovation and his contractor did the renovation without hiring a designer and it worked out fine.”

Let me ask you some follow-up questions for your brother: Did everything come out right the first time? Did it come out exactly as he had expected? Even better one: How many times did he get a call from the contractor to make a decision or come show them how he wanted something done?

Hmm. So maybe didn’t come out as well as we’d all like? This is not the contractor’s fault. Read that over again, please. They are not clairvoyant, nor are they typically trained in any way to be a decorator or designer, or interior designer. This means someone needs to tell them how they want things, and if no one writes any of that down, it needs to ALL be conveyed in person, which is a LOT of time. You might already know this if you’ve DIY-d a renovation without some kind of professional help.

So maybe these drawing things are starting to make more sense?

I can tell the best contractors immediately when I meet them and we discuss construction drawings and how we do them at Sanura Design (and how a Registered Interior Designer is trained to do them, period). We usually bond over having to construct something with no drawings and some gestures or being asked to help design a space with the clients when it isn’t what they signed up for.

So what’s our special sauce? It’s actually really simple if a lot of hard work and experience.

We document everything. I’m not exaggerating in the least- a master bathroom project might have 7 drawings attached to it. That sounds like a lot, but it’s amazing for the contractor (and honestly if I wanted to spend most of my day on a job site, I would have become a contractor)- they know exactly what tiles we’re putting in where, how the tiles are laid out, where the plumbing fixtures are going, where to install the bathroom accessories, all the details of the custom millwork, where to hang the mirror, what lighting fixtures are going in and exactly where to install them, and the list goes on!.

An example of how detailed our bathroom drawings are above- we draw the actual tile layouts to any difficulties with installation or tile size can be discovered in advance

Imagine how easy it is to price a project when you know exactly what’s going in- and typically this means better pricing for the homeowner. You know exactly how much your project will cost before anything is ordered and anything is demolished or constructed.

Remember when I said drawings allow Interior Designers to test out ideas and work out the kinks in advance? They also allow us to change the scope of work/design to suit your budget better without wasting time and money during the construction process. Drawings also enable us to collaborate with contractors during the design process to get budgetary feedback and their expertise.

So hopefully you’re coming around. Congratulations! Now you’re well informed enough to decide if you need to hire an interior designer or if you’re happier doing this yourself. That’s always my goal!

And if you just decided you’d rather not take on the full-time job of managing and designing your own renovation, you know where to find us!

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What to ask before hiring an Interior Designer

At my firm, Sanura Design, we love educated clients- and curious clients. An integral part of our process is ensuring our clients have all the information they need- and that includes knowing the design process, permit process, construction process, and everything in between.

So… what do you need to know before you hire me or another design professional?

1: Personality isn’t everything- but fit is really important

Interior design is an incredibly personal job- especially when designing your home. As your interior designer I know things like: what’s in your bedtime table, how you arrange your undies, what you have for breakfast, and your morning bathroom habits. Most of which I bet your friends don’t know. That means when you search for an interior designer you’re searching for someone you can be open with, and work with in their professional capacity. How do you know your interior designer is right for you (after checking qualifications, experience, etc)?  How do you know you’ll be friendly with someone?

2: Are they qualified?

Have a good look at what you’d like to accomplish for your project and what your goals are. Are you simply freshening a space by changing furniture, paint colours, lighting fixtures? That’s something you can hire an interior designer OR decorator for. Are you moving walls, changing your HVAC, electrical, etc, adding an addition, or generally altering your actual home in some way? That’s where you need a qualified professional- a registered interior designer is a regulated profession in Ontario where you know exactly what we need to know to earn our title of “interior designer” and we answer to our organization when we aren’t standing up to our code of ethics. Other design professionals do have extensive experience in renovations and may have a comprehensive skill set, if you hire someone like this the next step will be a very important one.

3: Check their references

Whether you’re hiring us, another registered interior designer, or another design professional, a very important step is asking for and checking a few references. You’re looking for past clients that have undergone similar work to your project, and a bonus can sometimes be hearing from other professionals, like contractors or consultants. You want to have a personal conversation with them and get a good idea for what their experience is like, exactly what the person you may be hiring did for them and what challenges came up. You need to check multiple references as this gives you a much fuller picture of who you’ll be working with.

4: Are they insured?

That’s their problem right? Professionals who do good work don’t need liability insurance- they never get sued.
Incorrect! Liability insurance isn’t just to cover a professional from unhappy clients, it’s also to cover the project from unforeseen circumstances- like a defective product, an incorrectly installed finish, or the incorrect product being installed (among many many other things). Mistakes happen, even with the best professionals, and true professionals carry this protection for themselves, their employees, and their projects.

5: Do they have a contract?

Contracts are incredibly important to your renovation. Both your contractor AND your interior designer should have detailed contracts for you to sign. For an interior designer they should include things like: fees/payment schedule, scope of work, details for breaking the contract, and clarify each sides responsibilities- to name a few. These contracts protect YOU the most- and I can’t emphasize that enough. If something goes wrong during the project and you didn’t sign a contract- you have no options and no protection. The longer and more detailed your professional’s contract is, the more confident you should feel in hiring them. This means they’re openly laying out exactly how they work and ensuring you understand the full process before you sign up for a project with them. A good professional is also always willing to go through their contract with you in detail to help you feel more comfortable.


Whew! That was a technical one. I’m sure I missed something (we don’t want an essay on the subject!), but it will serve as a great rule of thumb to ensure you get the right professional for your project.

Do you have any questions on what the qualifications of a registered interior designer ARE or would like to find one in your area? Check out the ARIDO website.

If you want to chat with us about your project and see if we’re a good fit for you? Get in touch with us.

This post first appeared on Sanura Design | Full Service Interior Design.

How does an Interior Designer save you time?

If you’ve been following my video journey, you’ll recall the video called Fabric Sourcing and You outlining why it’s not as easy as you think to pick out the right fabric for your sofa. That was a LOT of fabric and wallpaper, plus there was a lot more I didn’t show you on the other side of the showroom, AND the tables you see behind me have fabric and wallpaper under them. Does sorting through that fill you with dread? Well me too!

That is if I didn’t have the training, intuition, and experience that tells me what I’m looking for. AND a professional who is a partner in my project- who knows where everything is and can point me in the right direction(s).

This means what may take you an entire day of exhausting searching, takes me an hour or so to get the main choices sorted, then another small amount of time once I get the samples delivered to pick out the best one(s).

What about kitchens? Melissa, you say, I can just visit a kitchen place and pick that out myself? Hmm, well, have you or someone else ever spent a few weekends going to a few kitchen places because they didn’t quite see what they liked, and by the end probably didn’t even KNOW what they liked?

Or maybe that friend was you on a previous project. I have the knowledge and experience (and the deep understanding of you and your family) to curate the finishes in a much short amount of time, and then present you with a couple of choices you’ll like.

Let’s talk tiles. I have a favourite place to source tiles. SS Tile and Stone in Etobicoke. That’s because it has SUCH a huge selection. Have you ever walked into a tile store and been immediately overwhelmed? What about visited multiple tile stores and been even more confused? You aren’t alone!

This is a huge reason to hire me to help you when you technically could handle choosing the finishes yourself- who wants to give up their nights and weekends to do that? You’ve worked hard to save the money to do the renovation you’re doing, why should you spend so much of your precious time sifting through mountains of choices when I can make it a fun, pleasurable experience?

All of these decisions for a kitchen could be presented to you in 30 minutes and we would have the finishes chosen. 30. Minutes. Versus nights and weekends spent selecting them yourselves- and dealing with five or more different opinions on how you should do your kitchen. Moreover, almost none of those professionals have had the proper time to get to know you, what you LOVE, and how the space would best serve you.

So, why not keep your evenings and weekends for YOU? And leave the design process to me. You’ll just get a space you love, a relaxing fun process, a project on time and on budget, and your precious time back.

This post previously appeared on Sanura Design, “How Valuable is Your Time?

This government office stands out, instead of blending in

Gone are the days of formulaic government offices, with uninspired gray surroundings for employees, and thank goodness for that!

Using an activity-based design methodology, the LWG design team developed four floors of light-filled space designed within the auspices of the Government of Canada Workplace Guidelines. Using affordable materials in innovative ways allowed us to deliver an economical space that is not short on design details.

Baltic birch plywood figures prominently throughout the space, along with key pops of colour. This space provides a menu of options to support the work that takes place throughout a typical day, including areas for heads-down tasks to spaces for active, boisterous collaboration.

The LWG Design Team for this project included Marc Letellier, ARIDO; Rachel Burdick, ARIDO and Ashley Lepine, Intern, ARIDO.

Opening up room for collaboration

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce approached LWG Principal Marc Letellier with a challenge. In redesigning their office space, they wanted him to create a space that would remove the silos within their organization and create a variety of settings to encourage interaction and collaboration. The former space was intensely enclosed, with a high degree of private offices.

Interior Designer: Marc Letellier, ARIDO
Design Firm: LWG Architectural Interiors
Photographer: Kevin Bélanger

Rebalancing the distribution of space was a key to the success for this client. Space has been opened up to create an interactive work environment, both in the open office area (unified by a single linear LED light fixture) to a large reception zone and adjacent lounge used for hospitality functions. These are balanced with updated meeting rooms and privacy rooms.

LWG Interior Designer Gabrielle Leamaire, ARIDO was a key design team member for this project, developing conceptual elements, working drawings and assisting throughout the construction period.

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.

The ‘Future of Work’ according to SDI’s Joanne Chan

This pandemic will be considered a defining moment in our history and will forever change our view of “work”. Designers and manufacturers are responding with new ideas and products for how each of us is “going back to work”. But when the dust finally settles, and we emerge from this experience, what can we learn from this experience? And how is this going to change the “future of work”?

IDS or the Interior Design Show spoke to SDI’s Owner and Principal Joanne Chan, ARIDO about her thoughts on the “future of work” and how “human connection” will forever change in the workplace.

IDS: How are you doing? And how are you adapted to working from home?

SDI: I absolutely hate it! When preparing design and discussing ideas I work best in person. I like to sketch things over drawings and pull people together to chat etc. I really miss the studio and working with my team.

IDS: What do you think has been the biggest impact from everyone working at home?

SDI: Our biggest lesson learned from this that we are very resilient as a society. What we found was most companies were pleasantly surprised of how adaptive their teams are and realizing this is an opportunity to refine the meaning of work. It is still a huge learning curve for them with adapting to new technology and a new way to work and communicate. But with all the bells and whistle of Zoom video chats and Slack messengers in the world, we still crave and missed the basics of human connection.


IDS: But even without the end in sight, we all know one day all of us will have to go back to work. There is load of webinars and publications providing recommendations of how we will go back to work. Do you mind sharing your perspective?

In the short term, companies are focused on safety of their team. In conjunction with government guidelines, they are putting policies, procedures, and solutions in place to make the workplace safe. Many of our clients have engaged us in doing so. But inside the studio, we are more interested in the long-term impact of work.

Project: Beazley Insurance. Design team: Joanne Chan, ARIDO; Bruce Freedman, ARIDO; Glenn Cheng, ARIDO.

IDS: So Joanne, what are some of the short term actions employers are taking?

SDI: I would categorize them into a few categories:

Social Distancing and Remote work. The benchmark of work space per person has decreased gradually in recent years with the open workplace and need of collaboration space. To maintain the 2m social distancing radius, many of our clients have placed their workforce in various shifts for the short term. This temporary measure can solve the immediate social distancing requirements, but it does not address why we must work in the office in the first place.

Integrated Technology Platforms. Work from home can be challenging if the company does not have a proper technology solution. It is as simple as connecting with your teammates, access internal files to collaboration with others. A key element is to have a strong integrated technology environment to support mobile, collaborative, and remote work. This may require companies to revisit their VPN access, teleconferencing technologies, and Cloud storage abilities.

Monitoring & Limiting External Access. Although some reports stated that the coronavirus can be non-symptomatic, the best way to determine an employee may be sick is still through temperature monitoring. Like airports, companies can place reasonable sized temperature scanners at entry points, in conjunction with their access control systems. Many existing security control systems already can track “entry access”. With an integrated system, the two devices can now act as a “scan & trace” system as well. Limiting external access will also be key in creating a “trusted” workplace. Couriers, unwanted visitors, and even clients and guests will need to be addressed. Like delivery at your home, “curb-side” delivery may be the future of courier. Allowing packages to be dropped off at a secured area, limiting person-to-person signatures.

Project: Beazley Insurance, Design team: Joanne Chan, ARIDO; Bruce Freeman, ARIDO; Glenn Cheng, ARIDO

Sanitation, touchless & anti bacterial environments. Making sure your building’s cleaning staff understands the importance of thorough sanitation. Companies may have to engage additional resources to address concerns of daily cleaning and wipe downs. To combat climate change, many buildings already have installed sophisticated base building systems (BAS) to allow motion sensor lighting controls and fixtures in their space. But beyond basic control systems, we should now consider touchless garbage disposal units, anti-porous surfaces, mold resistance drywall, copper hardware and eliminating material that may retain bacteria. Designers and specifiers will need to select material that are both resistant and beautiful.

Mechanical upgrades. Most users of commercial building may not have influence over the specifications of the base building mechanical system. This will be a conversation between client and landlord on how to work together to allow more fresh air into the space, allowing more humidity in the air so air particles (and germs) will fall onto horizontal surfaces for cleaning and ensuring existing filters are replaced more frequently.

Project: Hillman Group. Design team: Bruce Freeman, ARIDO.

IDS: You say this can only be short term solutions, what do think should be the longer-term approach?

SDI: As designers and architects I think we are blessed to have the ability to look at the world with empathy. Not coming from the position of fear but rather the position of hope. My initial thought is that we should have a holistic approach in solving the future of work

In the past we have asked, “how do we work” numerous times, but this will be first time we are all asking, and rephrasing the questions to “what is the purpose of the office?” Studies have shown how an intelligently crafted workplace can not only increase productivity but [employee] happiness. Designers were asked to make “workplace as a destination”, the place to be. We now need to re-examine the roles, relationship, and responsibility of the workplace. If we can shift our thinking and re-imagine the future workplace to be purpose focused, it can still be dynamic, creative and energy-charged.

Project: Hillman Group. Design team: Bruce Freeman, ARIDO.

IDS: Can you elaborate on that?

SDI: Hm, I guess the question is to define what purpose focus means to all of us and what matters to us most. Given the choice, some people may say they would love to work from home for the near future. But for many of us, including me, we see the workplace as a place to create and foster new ideas, learn and celebrate. Our task is to distill those definitions from our clients, layering flexibility and technology integration into their workplace. With social distancing in mind, designers can now have the freedom to equip spaces with the exact tools for the specific function to get the job done. These work areas can now vary in size, height, and aesthetics to suit. This does not change the core of creating an engaging workplace, but ensures we are at work with a purpose.

IDS: What is the most important thing you have learn from this experience?

SDI: The one most important thing I have learned from this is that we should focus on what matters most, the people around us. We should be grateful and celebrate what we can create and achieve if we do it together.

This post originally appeared on IDS Toronto’s blog, it has been re-posted with permission.