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.”

‘My North, My Home’, a design for the defence and security sector

Aligning with their “My North, My Home” campaign, Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), a major Canadian employer and voice for the defence and security sector, retained Parallel 45 Design Group Ltd. to transform their existing urban Ottawa space into something clean, bright, with expansive areas to gather and collaborate.

Interior Designer: Liz Miller, ARIDO, Emilie Gauthier, Intern ARIDO
Design Firm: Parallel 45 Design Group Ltd.
Project Photographer: Justin Van Leeuwen

Transitioning it from a heavily partitioned space to an open and functional environment, was the main focus of the redesign, along with the appeal to up and coming talent.

Through the use of simple materials, textures, and natural elements such as wood, Parallel 45 Design Group achieved a space that not only represented their brand but kept budget at the forefront.

An immaculate office space lets this foundation focus on innovation

Canada Foundation for Innovation is an organization that funds cutting edge research in all disciplines. They engaged Bryan Wiens, ARIDO and the team at LWG Architectural Interiors to create a space that reflects the professionalism of their organizational culture, with a focus on a clean, transparent aesthetic – unencumbered by extraneous design elements.

Project Name: Canada Foundation for Innovation
Lead Designers: Bryan Wiens, ARIDO; Colette St-Denis Jolicoeur, ARIDO; Andrea Gravelle, Intern ARIDO
Photographer: Miv Fournier

The foundation’s gray and red branding is incorporated throughout the space via flooring and furniture, while pops of red add subtle sparks of interest. Art that recalls the innovations in science and technology lines the walls of the staff canteen, further emphasizing the organizations’ mission to the team.

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.

Transparency and professionalism two major themes in College of Physiotherapists redesign

The College of Physiotherapists of Ontario has grown steadily over the past few years and needed to move into a larger, centrally located office.

Interior Designer: Bryan Chartier

Design Firm: Diamond Schmidt Architects

Photographer: Lisa Logan

The former facility was traditional with a floor plan comprised of many individual offices and few employee amenities. It was difficult for the staff to communicate face to face and did not encourage social interaction. The College wanted an engaging work environment that also reflects their mission of transparency and professionalism in the public interest, created on a limited budget. A warm environment employing natural materials was created and maximizes the amount of access to daylight and views of the city skyline.

Desks along a wall of windows at the Ontario College of Physiotherapy offices.

The office is divided into two areas: a public area that contains meeting rooms and a large boardroom, and a secured office area for the College. A lot of emphasis was placed on creating a variety of work environments that encouraged interaction and collaboration, going beyond the traditional meeting room environments to spaces where spontaneous meetings and more casual formal engagements can take place.

The wall that separates the public area from the private offices was constructed of natural cherry wood panels that incorporate hidden doors, leading to small meeting rooms and phone booths. The wood finish of the backdrop distances itself from a traditional ‘corporate’ office palette of materials. The wall is directly opposite a south-facing window wall with an unobstructed view of downtown Toronto.

To balance the challenge of acoustic and visual privacy with an open and engaging work environment, the office workstations were divided into two groups, bisected by a central informal meeting area. The central ‘Town Hall’ space has a custom-designed meeting table and a recessed meeting niche lined with felt wall covering. The boardroom seats 35, yet it is re-configurable and incorporates a back area devoted to catering day-long meetings. The east area of the office contains a lounge, replete with a large sectional sofa and several swivel lounge chairs, and stunning views of Toronto’s City Hall.

Meeting room at the Ontario College of Physiotherapists with white walls and a wood topped table.

Following this redesign, the College has a variety of work environments, both public and private, in a range of palettes that reinforce the objective to encourage interaction among staff.