This beautifully redesigned retail space puts fashion forward

To increase market share, Bellissima underwent a rebranding and approached us to assist with translating their branding vision across their 12 stores. We were tasked with creating a boutique shopping experience that would improve foot traffic for a better flow through the space, encourage impulse purchases, and attract a younger demographic while maintaining their existing clientele. 

Interior Designer: Jerilyn Wright, ARIDO
Design Firm: Jerilyn Wright & Associates Interior Design Consultants Ltd.
Photographer: Caleb Salomons

Our strategy was to tour the existing stores and analyze them based on a branding and design viewpoint from the customer’s perspective. We looked at three areas; Store Front and Entry Experience, Merchandise Floor Experience, and Transaction Functionality. 

We found the impression upon entry to be underwhelming and cluttered as the store fronts and transactions area had no branding and were quite disorganized. There was little flow through the store layout which often resulted in circulation struggles. Change rooms lacked a seating area and were typically dimly lit, and the lighting throughout was harsh and not flattering. 

The client wished to  attract a younger demographic so we decided the word Bellissima should be removed from the front of the store and replaced with a more updated and youthful commissioned art piece featuring the letter “B” surrounded with flowers. The branding was carried through into the store with color application, bags, and wrapping paper. 

We utilized natural materials and artistic touches along with comfortable, homely vignettes throughout the space to create an inviting boutique shopping experience. To encourage foot traffic through the entire store, we purposefully located a very large custom ceiling graphic in the centre to visually draw the customers in.

Uninterrupted track lights were placed along the ceiling which were meant to mimic a fashion “catwalk” and direct the customers into the depths of the store, while illuminating the merchandise.

To create a consistent design concept that can be adapted to all the store locations, we designed custom racking that allows for feature displays and showcasing accessories. The middle panels also function as a display backdrop where a mannequin, or featured products can be showcased at each end.

The partitions are duplicated on the store walls and can be fitted with shelves for display if required. This custom racking system also provides slightly obstructed views to encourage the shopper to venture deeper into the store and explore, thus increasing circulation and time spent browsing. 

The change rooms and soft cozy seating at the back of the store also draw people back to this area. Various vignettes that function as displays for jewelry and clothing, like the mid century style wooden dressers and lounge areas, are tucked among the merchandise throughout in an effort to increase impulse purchases while mimicking an inviting, home-like environment.

The philosophy behind the design was to ensure the store was approachable, welcoming, and accessible to all. With the application of the new design, the redesigned location sales have far exceeded the other unrenovated locations, while maintaining their longtime customers, and attracting a younger, more diverse demographic.

Opening a new chapter in retail design

A creative vision of a “cultural department store for book-lovers” led Canada’s largest independent bookstore to expand beyond national borders to launch its first store in the United States in Short Hills, New Jersey. This contemporary shop interior embodies a holistic design concept that attracts customers of all ages and design sensibilities. 

Interior Designer: Diego Burdi, ARIDO

Design Team: Tom Yip, ARIDO

Design Firm: Burdifilek

Photographer: Ben Rahn, A-Frame Studio

A feminine area of the store "A room of her own" with modern round display tables and display units

The creative brief for this Indigo store was clear: the experience was to become the antithesis of a traditional book store. Understanding the notion that books were just the beginning of a larger narrative to enrich our lives, our team came up with a design concept that kept the books at the heart and soul of the experience, while introducing a product mix that compartmentalized the store into several core categories. 

A more dramatic area of the store showcasing a black and white color scheme and some pops of color on shelving and posters throughout the space

By creating a cross-pollination of books and products with areas like Room Of Her Own, Joy of the Table, and Paper Shop, Indigo enables a richer narrative for the books in those categories.

To recall the rawness of space found in a contemporary art gallery, we kept the exposed ceiling, simple drywall solution and various zones throughout the interior. The palette becomes a beautiful backdrop for the product, and a handsome framework that showcases a confidence for the Indigo brand identity. 

A view of "A room of her own" feminine area of the store from the homeware section

The beauty of the design shines when entering a specific zone as everything is proportioned to resemble entering a private residence. There is a clear sense for what each department is about – in Home, there’s a fireplace and bookshelves resembling  someone’s personal library, whereas Room Of Her Own carries a more feminine, softer palette and features a beautiful apothecary unit of metal and glass. Every area and fixture is custom-designed to uphold the sensibilities of each theme.

"Joy of the table" area, the section displaying homeware with floor to ceiling wall shelving and a stunning large dining table in front of them that showcases a table setting scene

Created in response to changing consumer tastes, habits, and demands, the new Indigo experience is unlike any traditional bookstore experience in North America. The new design is not just the proverbial bookstore with bookshelves and display cabinets. Standing at the lease line of this store, there are many points of interest to attract attention. With an expert team behind the cross-merchandising around the product, Indigo was able to create a physical extension of what the joy of books is all about.

Residential look and feel-A vignette of a white book shelf with predominantly white items displayed on it, and some purple details, all resembling a built-in shelf in someone's home.

Perfecting the art of integrating books with other products is the reason for success with this concept, while also creating a platform to make the store a meeting place where the community can come together with special events, learn new skills, and enjoy a wide variety of innovative and unique lifestyle products.  

Large oversized table with chairs in the centre surrounded by walls of built-in shelves full of colourful books

The winning combination of design and programming from the client transforms the new Indigo concept into an excellent case study on how retail must evolve in order to interest the consumer. Bookstores today should offer more retail animation by complementing the core product with a lifestyle component to further engage customers. In this particular case, the product lines were carefully curated to advance the themes of the book sections and mix with the books to tell a different story and share a unique point of view.

A new branch of innovation and sustainability for this flooring brand

The exhibition space for Twelve Oaks Flooring, premiered at the Toronto Interior Design Show 2023, aimed to achieve the goal of brand modernization by breaking convention while creating a memorable experience. The award winning immersive 400 square foot booth was designed as a reusable multi-media environment to challenge the public’s perception while showcasing product innovation.

Designer: Tracy Ho, ARIDO
Design Team: Joanne Chan, ARIDO; Bruce Freeman, ARIDO; Glenn Cheng, ARIDO
Design Firm: SDI Design Inc.
Photography: Splendid Projects and SDI Design Inc.

“MOVING PARTS: Design for a Complex World” was the challenge given by the show organizers to exhibitors. As designers, we are now faced with a reality that requires ongoing adaptation, building constant change and flexibility into how humans want to live and interact, incorporating sustainable materials, components, and reinvented manufacturing. 

The secondary challenge was to support Twelve Oaks Flooring’s goal of brand modernization and to achieve this through design implementation. The exhibit had to undertake the requirements noted above, while conceptually communicating the company’s values of innovation, creativity, and perseverance to evoke a strong emotional response. Furthermore, as a sustainable exhibit the booth also needed to allow for interchangeable content, speed of assembly, disassembly, and simple transport to future trade shows.

Our solution to these challenges was The Secret Glade: a brief journey connecting nature to maker and back to nature. Visitors are greeted by a solid cube structure with a carved, layered archway leading the audience to a hidden space featuring an immersive experience.

Our design team took inspiration from Twelve Oaks’ namesake reference, ‘Gone with the Wind’, mimicking the experience of an allée (walkway) of twelve oak trees, creating organic profiles carved from the elevated wood floor. This implies the perspective of proceeding under a symmetrical tree canopy towards a destination. The twelve panels each feature a different flooring type from the collection are illuminated to create a feeling of movement while remaining fixed in their place.

Eventually, visitors arrive at The Secret Glade, an immersive experience designed to create an emotionally connective response, highlighting the circularity of the forest as a sustainable resource for flooring material. The projected artwork cycles between vignettes of sunlight, water, and forests, moving into the manufacturing process of the Gemtec flooring series, then returning to the regeneration of the forest.

Showcasing innovation, the entire assembly of the wood floor installation has been consciously left exposed. It shows the consumer each layer, from quality veneer, robust and highly sustainable backing, to the plywood subfloor layer.

From the custom exterior graphic enclosing The Secret Glade, comprised of zoomed in images of twelve oak trees, to the allée archway, the installation makes a striking and popular photo backdrop and a showstopping brand ambassador for Twelve Oaks.

Open and Spacious Family Living

Our strategy for this condo sales centre was simply to inspire. We wanted to use the unique dome-shaped space provided by the quonset hut to encourage visitors to look up at the pillowy ceiling and envision their future in a Reina  condo. Although the specific function of the sales centre is to serve as a point of sale for the condominiums, we had a deeper goal in mind when designing the interior; to engage and stimulate the visitor’s sense of curiosity and imagination.

Interior Designer: Caroline Robbie, ARIDO
Design Team: Kim Sunhwa, ARIDO
Design Firm: BDP Quadrangle
Photographer: Remi Carreiro

Outdoor view of the dome shaped Reina Sales centre

One of our core philosophies is human-centered design where we place the end user in mind when approaching any aspect of design. That is the reason we designed the Reina Sales Centre to be a place filled with natural light that flows through the large windows and  provides visitors with a connection to nature while inside. 

We conscientiously planned the space to create a clear path of travel upon entry and enable direct movement from front to back. Besides giving potential buyers the ability to see the outdoors from within,  it also provides an unobstructed air flow for improved ventilation in the space, creating a sense of an open and spacious interior. 

Colourful lounge area in the central area of the sales centre
Vignette of the bathroom design in a wood and white palette

The central space is divided by the low-height walls that visually encourage visitors to move either to the left or right to discover vignettes featuring designs for suites or future building’s amenities. We incorporated inviting,  colourful lounge spaces for conversation and discussion within these areas. 

Aside from showcasing modern and clean finishes and furnishings, these  vignettes feature smart storage and user-friendly aspects of the design like a step stool that extends out from the toe-kick in the kitchen vignette or built-in closet storage.

Vignette of the kitchen design with built in storage and shelving

We included a pink ball pit in our design for this space  to provide a light-hearted and genuine way for kids to have a place to be kids while grown-ups take care of the paperwork. It also serves as a not-so-subtle reminder that the Reina Condominium is a place for families to grow and create lasting memories. 

With our design for this sales centre we aimed  to create a space that embodies the ethos of the Reina condominium; community-making, multigenerational, and flexible. By designing an inspiring, fun, family oriented interior, we created a space that engages potential buyers to give them a sense of what the future at Reina Condominiums would look like.

This interior brings all business operations together so naturally

A multifaceted company like Nutrichem needed to integrate all parts of the business into a new, larger and more functional space. We were tasked with bringing the biomedical clinic, pharmacy, lab, retail store, international shipping services and business operations under one roof to further support their business philosophy of health and nutrition.

Interior Designer: Ellen Lee, ARIDO

Design Firm: Ellen Lee Design 

Photographer: Mailynne K. Briggs

Each area of the new interior required detailed custom millwork to accommodate the unique yet integrative aspects of each space. With the client’s help we were able to identify the importance of functionality in a way that would exude precision and beauty for Nutrichem’s clientele, without compromising function. 

The new millwork needed to house all their lab function and products; a dispensary that housed all their medication and production; a large retail store with custom millwork from cash registers to all the shelving gondolas; a clinic with integrative flow from reception to the consultation rooms and  the IV therapy services; a fully functional shipping/receiving department; a staffroom and offices.

All millwork was custom made and inspired by biophilic design with natural wood finishes in colours inspired by nature, wood grains, curves of a tree of life, natural birch branches encased in panels. The underlying concept was one of life and health, all while exuding their corporate colours and philosophy.

Each piece of millwork had to be carefully planned and designed to highlight the Nutrichem line of specialty products in the best way possible. It had to showcase a finite amount of products and remain visible to customers, all the while maintaining certain site lines so clients feel welcome to speak with staff. Each piece of lab millwork behind the scenes was painstakingly calculated for function and storage of specific lab equipment while being code compliant.

Discerning buyers RUSH to claim units at this lively Toronto condo

‘Rush’, a 1,700 square foot presentation centre, situated in Toronto’s trendy Queen Street West retail strip, was inspired by nearby ‘Rush Lane’ – a famed alleyway filled with graffiti-painted buildings. The playful black-and-white commissioned artwork by ‘En Masse’, a Montreal-based art collective, offers a hint of what’s to come in the boutique residence as feature graffiti walls are planned in the final residences’ lobby, party room, fitness, and outdoor terrace overhang. 

Interior Designer: Kelly Cray, ARIDO

Design Team: Neil Jonsohn, ARIDO; Christianne Barbuto, Intern ARIDO 

Design Firm: U31   

Photographer: Jac Jacobson

Reception area in the very front of the space enveloped in the black and white graffiti on wall and ceiling

The objective of the project was to create a presentation centre that would reflect the final boutique condominium, and attract design savvy urbanites who already live in the area, or others who aspire to be part of the dynamic, off-beat and creative neighbourhood scene. As the vision for the residence was to express a refined, high-contrast industrial edge, the centre articulates this by combining old meets new, and raw meets polished. For instance, our design team deliberately kept the ceiling exposed and sprayed it out in matte black, but incorporated polished elements and surfaces to create the desired polarity.

Lounge area in the very front of the space enveloped in the black and white graffiti on wall and ceiling

As the animated entry walls and ceilings create an energized atmosphere, our design team kept the remaining scheme clean, contemporary, and functional. Visitors encounter a space that is at once dynamic, yet quite approachable and easy to navigate. Closing areas are casual fostering a less intimidating sales experience for the younger or first-time home purchaser.

The open concept layout ensures that all key marketing assets, including intricate scale 3D model, fashioned with a luxury ‘invisible’ grey marble base, wall mounted framed floor plans and kitchen/bath vignettes are close at hand for the essential sales experience.  

Lounge area in the very front of the space enveloped in the black and white graffiti on wall and ceiling

This impactful interior incorporates finishes and elements envisioned for building amenities: natural stone, custom statement lighting, and black fashion-forward accents unite beautifully for an edgy, contemporary, high- contrast look. Pops of neon, with a punchy ‘A Collision of Culture’ sign slogan, continues the dynamic branding campaign. 

The elongated ‘invisible’ grey marble reception counter is multi-functional: the far end serves as a suite finishes display, with assets housed under an elegant glass case, as one would find in a jewellery boutique. It also functions as a casual area for information gathering with sales staff.

Pops of neon, with a punchy ‘A Collision of Culture’ sign slogan and in front of it counter with marketing materials and statement lighting above, with pops of colorful art in the background

Hovering above the counter is a dramatic custom light fixture, drawing visitors to peruse the sales assets below. Positioning the kitchen vignette at the far back was meant to pique visitors’ interest, and draw them deeper into the space where a closing table is located nearby to ‘seal the deal’. 

The presentation centre was overwhelmingly popular and attracted 350 visitors when it opened , with the developer selling out of its entire 124-suite inventory by the end of March 2019.

This interior is dressed up in high-end style and luxury

Trafalgar Landing sets a precedent for modern-designed home developments in the historically traditional city of Oakville. This major residential development consisting of three mid-rise boutique condo buildings and 500 townhomes, brings an entirely new architectural landscape to the city. To reflect the client’s vision, our team took a modern approach in the design of the lobby and amenities.

Interior Designer: Suzanne Wilkinson, ARIDO 

Design Team: Dominic De Freitas, ARIDO

Design Firm: Figure3 

Photographer: Steve Tsai Photography

Luxurious bar and lounge area in Trafalgar Landing sales centre in dark luxe colour scheme and interior finishes

In Oakville, the target market had come to expect comfort and luxury in their living spaces, so our design had to live up to these expectations. The goal was to provide amenities that would complement the clean, strong architectural features of the building exteriors with elegant design and thoughtful details. 

Our challenge was to find a way to marry the traditional style and elevated standard of Oakville living with the more contemporary look the client was envisioning for the space.

Sofa in the lounge area designed in a neutral colour scheme with luxurious interior finishes and materials

Through experiential research, we gained firsthand insights into what Oakville residents value in design. One notable observation was that they appreciated high fashion, as it represents luxury, craftsmanship, and enduring style. With this in mind, we decided to use a luxury brand story to bridge the gap between modern and traditional design. 

With each of the three condos retaining the same floor plan, we decided each should have its own personality. Drawing inspiration from some of the world’s most revered fashion brands, the three spaces reflect the aesthetics of Bulgari, Burberry and Chanel.

A bright living room setting with statement globe lighting above and neutral mid century furniture
A bright living room setting with built in wall cabinets and neutral mid century furniture

The lobby and amenities at Trafalgar Landing demonstrate how contemporary elements can be incorporated into a space without sacrificing quality. The marriage of thoughtful layouts, luxurious finishes, and a wealth of amenities creates a compelling design that represents the standard of high-end living.

High end gym setting equipped with top of the line equipment and interesting geometric feature wall in the background

Working closely with the client during the entire process ensured the design vision was wholly accomplished, making this project hugely successful. With such designs typically only seen in urban environments, residents were won over by Trafalgar Landing’s exceptional quality and modern yet timeless details, and as a result, it has pioneered a new way of thinking about the Oakville buyer, with contemporary developments now becoming popular in the city.

Interior designers go against the grain for this immersive wood themed exhibit

As a main sponsor for Toronto’s Interior Design Show in 2019, hardwood flooring manufacturer PurParket sought to create a conceptual space that provides a memorable experience, connecting visitors with the origins of their product.

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

Design Team: Marti Hawkins, ARIDO;

Design Firm: Mason Studio    

Photographer: Scott Norsworthy

View of the PURparket exhibit booth entrance

To differentiate from past exhibitions and take advantage of a prime six-hundred square foot location, the design concept focused on creating an immersive space that explores the beauty of wood. Shown in various states of existence, wood becomes both the main feature and the backdrop to the experience.

Visitors to the booth are reminded of the capabilities of wood being both a fundamental building material and a material that can extract visceral emotional response. A full sensory experience of sight, sounds, smell and touch was used to attract the discerning eye of designers and architects triggering memory through a connection with nature.

To reconnect visitors with the natural qualities of the wood product, forest-like forms and activities contribute to an interactive experience while information panels provide an educational component to reinforce the connection between the unprocessed material and finished product.

a wall of raw wood logs with integrated product offerings

To offset the intensity and scale of the show, the booth was conceived as a space within a space to shift from public to private; open to intimate. Designed to create only glimpses of the interior space from the outside, it encourages curious visitors to move from the highly active show floor, to enter and discover what exists within.

Upon entry from two access points, guests are greeted by a wall of raw wood logs with integrated product offerings. The hardwood flooring display is as though it has been revealed from within the tree itself.

To provide guests an opportunity to rest and reflect, a flickering fire sits within the innermost portion of the space. Seen through openings within the log walls, guests can gather, sit on log seating, and enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation.

An interior that expands the horizons

As the star attraction of one of the most photographed skylines in the world, it only made sense to make the CN Tower interior just as attractive as its exterior. mackaywong responded to the international invitation extended to qualified design and construction teams, tasking them with the challenge of imagining a completely new visitor experience, that would rekindle the interest within the local community, add necessary accessibility upgrades, and deliver a high impact experience for guests from near and far.

Interior Designer: Ronald Wong, ARIDO; Gordon Mackay, ARIDO

Design Team: Malcolm Choy, Jason Chin, Rei Sosroutomo, Carine Paratian, Kye Lee

Design Firm: mackaywong

Photographer: David Whittaker

View of new glass floor and skypod lobby

In collaboration with the architects, the design team at mackaywong determined that the existing level, consisting of a dated 200 seat restaurant called Horizons, several cramped viewing areas, a staircase leading to the 360 restaurant above, two dark elevator lobbies, and some rundown quick service food and retail kiosks, should be completely redesigned. 

Dining area in the lake hub

A responsive and flexible solution was delivered to address the idea that any event at the CN Tower could be intimate or expansive. The ultimate goal was to create a unified observation experience that prioritizes the view and reimagines the food and beverage format on this level. 

View of lake food and beverage hub

By removing the existing raised seating area in Horizons and eliminating established entry and exit points in, the design team created three highly efficient food and beverage hubs within the interior edge, and optimizing paths of travel around the external edge.

Night view from North view bay with integrated step seating
Night view from East view bay showing the beautiful night views of the city below and a stunning sunset

The new design aimed to showcase uninterrupted views of Canada’s largest and most diverse city, its relationship with the stunning waterfront, and the beauty of Lake Ontario. In response to this central idea, the design team imagined a SKY PROMENADE framed with floor to ceiling glass for unobstructed views, mirrored ceilings, wrapped in a crisp neutral material palette, and bathed in soft coloured light to make the night views of the city an even more exceptional experience for visitors.

Hospitality and retail services were pushed towards the centre of the Tower and integrated seamlessly into the interior. The three food and beverage hubs subtly derive design inspiration from the respective panoramic views of the city and Lake Ontario.

Contrast and luxury are on display in this understated jewellery boutique

Located in Toronto’s Liberty Village, Carnabys is a jewellery boutique that offers unique collections, bespoke designs, and personal assistance to those who wish to design their own jewellery.

Interior Designer: Johnson Chou, ARIDO
Design Firm: Johnson Chou Inc.
Project Photographer: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc.

The project extends the existing corporate branding, employing black as the predominant colour, while the overall design is intended to convey the refined, bespoke nature of the business. The space is both a jewellery boutique with display cases in a composition that allows multiple options for visual merchandising, and a design studio, featuring versatile cabinetry to delineate more intimate consultation spaces within a retail environment.

Created as an extension of the corporate branding with black as the dominant colour, the space is intended to convey the artisanal, bespoke nature of the business, and is an exercise in restraint and a study in contrast. Contrapuntal concepts include: dark and light, heavy and weightlessness, textured and smooth, refined and found.

This project was awarded an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2018.