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.

Luxury lives in this high-end condo presentation center

Formerly a retail space, this boutique style presentation centre for a church conversion connecting a new four-storey condominium in Toronto’s High Park neighbourhood, was envisioned to communicate a luxury lifestyle. The design team’s primary approach was to focus on creating well-appointed vignettes that reflected the building’s final look, while also creating a special experience for potential purchasers.

Interior Designers: Kelly Cray, ARIDO; Neil Jonsohn, ARIDO

Design Firm: U31

Photographer: Jac Jacobson

Entrance to the main central presentation space showcasing wood and metal separators between the rooms

As the client was a new player in the condominium market, it was important to establish a highly credible sales story for potential purchasers. The design team’s key strategy was to use high quality materials and elements and setting up a well crafted, high end experience.

Welcoming reception desk area, modern clean lines of the marble and wood front desk
Kitchen vignette-Modern Dark colored wood kitchen cabinets and island with white countertops and walls with beautiful abstract artwork on the wall.

The open concept kitchen, bath and living-room vignettes offer a glimpse of the residences’ quality finishes: layers of light travertine, marble, lacquer surrounds, and quartz countertops combine with contemporary matte black fixtures and gold accents.

A living room setting with luxurious finishes and built-ins on the walls and modern high end furniture, all in welcoming beige and white neutral palette
Bathroom vignette-soaker tub and a shower, white and grey marble walls and floors, clean modern lines on the vanity and black hardware throughout

Inspiration was drawn from the century old ‘High Park Alhambra’ church’s Neo Gothic architecture, as well as from a contemporary sensibility. As such, classically inspired details like the artist-crafted mural spanning a longwall and the ceiling treatment of repurposed white washed tin tiles blend effortlessly with streamlined cabinetry and furniture forms.

Central area of the presentation center with the large 3D model of the condo building and a large modern white light fixture above. Two monitors on the wall in the back.

Transitions between each zone of this presentation centre are fashioned in custom Deco-inspired metal screens, abstractly referencing the development’s branding logo, and helping to define reception and sales areas.

Upon arrival, visitors encounter well executed craftsmanship in the reception area and throughout. The luxurious style is evident all around this presentation centre; from the high-end bathroom design featuring marble-like porcelain feature walls and high end fixtures, to the modern, streamlined kitchen, reassuring the purchaser of the upgraded options awaiting them. 

Closing office looks like a high end dining room setting, with large framed photos on the walls, beautiful light fixture

The closing office, used for private sales negotiations, is a dining room setting, keeping up with the inviting residential feel. The challenging low ceilings in this interior were remedied by introducing lower surrounds in key areas to give the illusion of a higher overall ceiling height. The layout facilitates an impactful and personalized experience at a crucial point in the home building process and the cozy fireplace and comfortable seating encourages visitors to feel ‘at home’.

A journey through eclectic luxury in this condo presentation centre

Condo buyers today look for luxurious, hospitality-inspired features when considering a condo  for their new home. At Phoenix, our main focus was on how the potential homeowner would use and enjoy the spaces, not just design those which are visually stimulating. In addition to stunning residential units, the condo building features a variety of amenities that appeal to a higher-end target market with modern sensibilities, such as a chic lobby lounge, spa oasis, outdoor luxury pool, and modern gym.

Interior Designer: Dominic De Freitas, ARIDO

Design Firm: Figure3

Photographer: Steve Tsai Photography

A large 3D model of the building displayed in a large space in the lobby area with metal details above, on the ceiling and wood a glass details on the wall displaying beautiful framed photographs of the property

The presentation centre was designed to reflect this luxurious lifestyle, leading potential purchasers on a journey through the space, from reception, through multiple seating areas, to the final reveal of the condo space.

The Phoenix presentation centre was built in an existing space which needed to be retrofitted specifically for this project. With a limited budget, our team had to find creative ways to repurpose and reuse as much as possible of the existing infrastructure with minimal waste, yet create the look and feel the client’s marketing team aspired to achieve. 

A large 3D model of the building displayed in a large space in the lobby area with metal details above, on the ceiling and the 'living room" style lounge area visible in the back

Located in Mystic Pointe, outside of Toronto’s downtown core, it would not receive foot traffic from the street and potential buyers would have to go out of their way to visit. The presentation center therefore had to embody the alluring Phoenix lifestyle and become a destination that would attract potential buyers to the location, and facilitate a curated program of compelling activities and experiences.

Guests enter the presentation center through the reception area, where they are met with the substantial building model highlighted by an impressive lighting feature. Built around a backlit canvas on the ceiling, it mimics the effect of the skylight which is present in the Phoenix condo lobby. The sculptural fixture is made from an industrial black metal frame with vintage filament bulbs that were later repurposed in the condo building itself.

A dramatic reveal is created as guests transition into the sitting area by walking around a European style fireplace, clad in charcoal stone. This area was designed to have a hotel-like atmosphere, with two seating zones that welcome guests in and encourage social activity.

The space features a mix of old and new, and a combination of raw and refined materials. Earthy colours and fumed wood finishes are offset by richly coloured furniture and accessories such as contemporary sofas and Persian rugs, made to resemble an eclectic collection of pieces acquired over time. 

The model suite is located at the end of the customer journey encouraging the customers to walk through the entire space, their curiosity piqued along the way. Empire’s award-winning Phoenix marketing campaign included a series of after-hours “adulting” classes, focusing on the lifestyles of their target customers, facilitated by the impressive design experience of the space. 

With features that recall luxury hospitality, and user experiences which connect with buyers’ sense of community and modern sensibilities, the repurposed Phoenix presentation center became a marketing hit which  led to exceptional sales results. Since launching in June 2018, all 447 units sold out within 9 months, far exceeding expectations and demonstrating how strongly their campaign, and this design, resonates with buyers.

 ARIDO Award: Trailside Presentation Centre

Located in the beautiful Town of Oakville, Distrikt Trailside was designed to create an elevated lifestyle imbued with fine dining, world-class shopping, lush surroundings and luxury living. To provide a subtle nod to history, Figure3 looked to European boutique hotels, the Victorian era, and brands like Ted Baker who have mastered the art of taking inspiration from the old and modernizing it for a beautiful, timeless piece of work.

Interior Designer: Dominic DeFreitas, ARIDO
Design Firm: Figure3
Design Team: Nadine Burdak, ARIDO; Megan Hayward, Intern, ARIDO

Photographer: Steve Tsai Photography

Elegant yet inviting, the space is a stylish yet relaxed environment, using a fusion of traditional design elements customary to Oakville homes. As the Distrikt Trailside community is a departure from traditional Oakville living, these chic, urban, and fashion-forward design elements help highlight the exclusive, downtown feel of the development, while respecting the timeless, upscale luxury that Oakville is known for.

As guests enter the presentation centre they are immediately immersed in the condo’s elegant and comforting lobby space. From the wall coverings to the furniture, duplicating these elements allows visitors to experience how it will feel to call Distrikt Trailside home. 

Lounge seating and above it is a wall of mirrors with reflection of the entire presentation centre making the space look larger

Just beyond the entry, the speakeasy inspired lounge and bar area unfolds, creating a relaxed, hospitality environment; an ideal solution to appeal to this target demographic and set the mood for a positive sales experience. The long, narrow room was a design challenge, but the installation of a millwork archway between the entry hall and the lounge divides the room into different sections, creating balance within the space.

A working model of the condo’s personal AI assistant is prominently featured beyond the lounge. Housing various elements of the digital application, visitors can interact with the unique interface and experience the exclusive benefits of the AI assistant.

A detail of the model kitchen design in dark and light contrasting color scheme and statement light pendants above the island
A working model of the condo’s personal AI assistant is prominently featured beyond the lounge

The archway and styled bookcases provide a dramatic threshold between the entrance vestibule and lounge area. This area also features an expansive marble topped bar, as well as tables, chairs, and casual bench seating. Spatially, there is an easy, intuitive transition as guests navigate through the presentation centre and the continuity of finishes helps to create a cohesive environment. The casual bar sets the scene for a low-pressure, sales environment.

Luxurious yet relaxing atmoshphere is created with this large format floral wall paper in dark tones along with the wooden built in library and mood lighting

As guests pass through the lounge towards the back portion of the space; the sales area unfolds to present the features and finishes, as well as a dedicated sales space. 

The bold finishes continue here with more gold faceted tables and black and white marble that add to the sophistication and timelessness of the setting. In carrying the finishing materials through each section of the presentation space, an intuitive path unfolds between each zone, creating continuity and connectivity.

In order to appeal to the upscale buyer, the design team took inspiration from British fashion house Ted Baker. With a bold floral wall application and sophisticated gold and black finishes with dark marble and rich woods, the overall atmosphere is stylish, sophisticated, and reminiscent of an exclusive lounge. 

One of the most unique elements of this presentation centre can be found just inside the main display window where the building model sits atop a mechanically pivoting table with the ability to tilt at a 20-degree angle towards the front window. After hours, the angled table is perfectly situated to showcase the impressive table top model; prompting intrigue and driving interest in passers-by.

The 3D model is placed at the entrance to the stylish and elegant presentation centre, leading the visitor toward the lounge area where black, gold and wooden finishes dominate for a luxurious effect

The presentation centre was fully accessible despite its narrow layout, to ensure that the experience felt equitable to all visitors. Seating considerations and various table heights were also installed to create options for those with mobility specifications.

In partnership with Decanthropy, a leading Toronto-based inclusive design consultancy, Figure3 continues to develop an effective governance model to help prioritize and measure positive and equitable transformation of the places and environments we create. Figure3 is committed to supporting diversity, equity and inclusion; reflected in the project team for Distrikt Trailside’s presentation centre.

A vignette of the white island counter top and golden base with elegant gold and black bar stools. Above are hanging round pendant lights

The materials palette of the space is another example of understated elegance. As guests enter the space they are greeted with natural elements like wood, metal and marble and a large floral pattern wall treatment that captures the surrounding natural beauty in a visually bold way; introducing a biophilic atmosphere and overall sense of wellness within the presentation centre.  

Throughout the lounge, globe-like fixtures create a soft cascade of light, while mirrored wall treatments allow the light to bounce and reflect within the space. The energy continues through in the veining of the marble, and the grain of the woods that help to emphasize a wellness inspired atmosphere filled with life and movement.

As a result, 60% of available units sold within the first month of the sales office opening, and 75% sold (229 of 305 available units) in less than two months, the best-ever sales pace for this developer.

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.

An exercise in elegance and luxury

The sophisticated design approach for this gym and recreational facility in the upscale Rosedale neighbourhood in Toronto ties in with its surroundings through the use of luxurious materials and finishes like brass and copper, thus creating a theme of elegance.

Interior Designer:  Siavash Mahdieh, ARIDO


Photographer: Ben Rahn, A-Frame Studio

Rosedale Club front window showcasing the elegant reception and waiting area inside.

The design team looked after programming and pre-design, schematic design, design development, and construction administration of this 18,000 square foot facility.

The main objective behind the design solution for this interior was to create an elegant and modern design direction harmonious with the sophisticated surrounding neighbourhood. To achieve that, first several interior walls had to be removed to create an open concept and enable an unobstructed view from the outside, to tie in the interior with its upscale surroundings.

Then, it was important to designate specific areas of the interior to accommodate the different fitness and exercise areas, as well as the lounge area and reception, the three sales offices, nutritionist and healthcare assistant office space, and the juice and bar area.

An open concept vapor fireplace, featured at the floor level transition, hides the difference between floor levels and turns the 200 square feet at the front window into a lounge area. This created an elegant display at the front window without blocking the view to inside space. The circular seating area in front of the reception creates an effective traffic flow that separates the reception from the lounge and juice bar.