Inspiration was locally-sourced for this luxurious downtown Toronto condominium

Situated at the intersection of Toronto’s landmark financial and heritage St. Lawrence Market districts, 88 Scott was an opportunity to create a standout, luxury downtown residence. 

Interior Designer: Kelly Cray, ARIDO

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

Design Firm: U31

Photographer: Jac Jacobson

Standing proud at 58-storeys, this condominium is anything but meek. The towering neoclassical-style structure demanded an interior as impressive as its presence at the corner of Scott and Wellington. The design was largely guided by our client’s directive to take a ‘Canadian Moderne’ approach which involved looking to Canada’s natural landscape for inspiration. The result is an urban oasis that’s rooted in references to nature. 

The experience begins in the 1,500 square foot hotel-style lobby where dark and light coexist to create a dramatic statement. We established a warm and engaging entrance by combining textured and polished stone backgrounds with walnut-paneled walls and screens. Guests are welcomed by Euro-inspired seating that encourages lounging and a double-sided “Ocean Black” slate fireplace that provides a cozy spot for escaping the cold. The fireplace serves as the focal point of the space and overall, contributes to the grand, sophisticated flavour of the lobby.

With the executive demographic target purchaser in mind, we designed a 1,800 square foot business area adjacent to the lobby. This zone contains private workstations, a boardroom, and a lounge for the convenience of residents.

An extensive amenity program was the key to cultivating a luxury lifestyle for 88 Scott’s residents. The amenities are located across the building’s sixth and 46th and 47th split levels (spanning 10,400 square feet total) and include everything from wellness-oriented offerings to entertainment-geared experiences. The sixth floor consists of a fitness centre and a social area featuring a sophisticated party room complete with a kitchen and bar. Unique art pieces animate key areas of the party room: a geometric wood ‘stack’ installation emphasizes the grand fireplace while hand-crafted coffee tables complement lounge seating arrangements.

In the 46th and 47th split level ‘Sky Lounge’ and private dining room, we created a vibrant urban atmosphere by incorporating large windows that frame views of Toronto. By day, the space is bright and airy, while by night, a moodier atmosphere emerges as skyscrapers and Lake Ontario glimmer in the distance. The ‘Sky Lounge’ interior features a combination of raw textures (seen in the wood floors and stone fireplace surround) against more glamorous, fabricated finishes (seen in the mirrored ceiling and lush upholstery fabrics). 

One of the main challenges of designing 88 Scott was delivering a high-end yet cost-effective result. For instance, the lobby chandelier, which was originally quoted from a European manufacturer, had to be substituted by a local supplier to accommodate budgetary constraints. Fortunately, the final result achieved the sumptuousness we had envisioned. 

Challenges continued as the building’s heritage designation required us to leave architectural elements, like windows, untouched. Since we couldn’t alter the imperfect window openings and sill heights, we added white sheer drapery throughout the lobby to disguise the irregularities. 

Since the project’s completion, residents have been taking full advantage of the condominium’s many offerings. The building’s lobby is much more than a spot to wait for an Uber: residents regularly spend time in this space catching up on emails and meeting up with friends before they head out on the town.

This project was awarded an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2019.

Bringing Home to Hotel Design at the Kimpton Saint George Hotel

188 guest rooms, fourteen stories, and one common goal: to integrate elements of Toronto’s culture and personality and provide guests with a distinct sense of place. Our team responded to this vision with a design that communicated a narrative of local pride, diverse heritage, and contemporary culture to create the Kimpton Saint George Hotel.  The boutique hotel brand, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is renowned for individually designed boutique hotels positioned to reflect the cities they inhabit. Completed in 2018, the Saint George Hotel, Kimpton’s only hotel operating in Canada, is situated in the heart of Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood. 

Interior Designer: Stanley Sun, ARIDO; Ashley Rumsey, ARIDO
Design Firm: Mason Studio
Design Team: Marti Hawkins, Intern, ARIDO

Project Photographer: Naomi Finlay

Its design celebrates Toronto’s layered history and sensibilities. An investigative approach was taken to dissect and analyze the city’s vernacular to better understand key materials,  patterns, and nuances that would resonate as indicators of local culture and significance. The diversity of the city’s heritage and culture with its distinct neighbourhoods is explored through locally designed furniture, original artwork, natural materials, and strong interior architectural forms that pay homage to Toronto’s varied architectural style and eras. The design concept is expressed in every facet of the hotel, beginning at the street level with an exterior black wood awning punctuated with small pin-like lights, spelling “Kimpton” in Braille lettering. This lighting feature is a subtle nod to the iconic marquee signs that once occupied the neighbourhood.

Upon entry, the reception area features a marble desk framed with wooden arches, backdropped by a hand-painted mural of a misty Toronto-inspired scene. Adjacent to reception is a guest lounge, designed to feel like a living room. The space is occupied by a collection of bespoke furniture, artwork, lighting, and objects, many crafted by local makers that continue to tell the story of local culture and design. A 400-square foot lounge situated on the main floor is realized in darker, more saturated tones to convey a feeling of warmth and intimacy. The adjacent 1,100-square-foot meeting space, named the Peregrine Room, is, by contrast, bright and spacious. The change in mood between the lounge and the meeting room reinforces the concept of distinct neighbourhoods within the city. 

The guestrooms, suites, and generous presidential suite are a continuation of the nostalgic nod to the layered heritage of the neighbourhood. The rooms were designed with a residential approach including a collection of art, custom-designed furniture and lighting, seemingly collected over time. Every element in the suites is carefully designed to provide guests with an experience parallel to a well-appointed apartment in the neighbourhood, offering guests a warm alternative to more traditional hotel accommodations.

This project was also awarded an ARIDO Award of Excellence in 2019.

California cool meets British eclecticism in this serene resort

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

Interior Designer: Eric McClelland, ARIDO

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

Photographer: Nhuri Bashir

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

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

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
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.

Whisky and whimsy reform luxury hospitality design

Situated in the former Trump Hotel in the heart of Toronto’s business district, the design team was tasked with removing associations with past ownership, while introducing Canadians to the historic St. Regis brand. Inspired by Toronto’s vibrant cultural heritage, the redesigned lobby, lounge, and restaurant express an enduring quality, setting a new standard for luxury hospitality in the dynamic city.  

Interior Designer(s): Allen Chan, ARIDO
Design Firm: DesignAgency
Photographer: Brandon Barre

Aligning the design with the elegant spirit of the St. Regis, we carefully selected materials in the lobby and Astor Lounge that exude artistry and craftsmanship featuring authentic woods, leather, and brass. An array of custom elements convey a sense of quiet excellence, while abstractly paying homage to a myriad of inspirations from the region’s geology, history, mapping, and urban architecture. The bronze fireplace in the lounge was inspired by the brick character of Queen Street West, while bespoke furniture pieces throughout echo the unique colours and textures of the Ontario landscape. 

The lobby and Astor Lounge are defined by a soft, earthy colour palette, customized furnishings and lighting, and authentic materials and textures which inspire a sense of calm by balancing the energy of the inherently urban location. A key challenge presented to the team was to establish a new environment while retaining character-defining elements like the floors and alabaster walls in the lobby, which were too valuable to remove. By adding elements that worked to shift emphasis away from the floor and walls we were able to redefine the space. A gilded topographical ceiling mural, oak reception cabinet, and an impressive totemic sculpture enhance vertical sightlines, prompt curiosity, and act to draw guests deeper into the hotel. 

The 31st-floor bar and restaurant are established as the jewel of the hotel, setting a tone of quality and luxury that draws guests to the restaurant as an inspiring new dining destination for the city. Prior to the redesign, the hotel restaurant was dark, intense, and dated. As a contemporary homage to historic precedents, the new signature restaurant feels transformed, elegant, and enduring.

Drawing inspiration from Canada’s history as manufacturers of distilled whisky and spirits, the design evokes the warm amber tones of whisky, and sparkle of refracted light through the cut crystal glass of a tumbler. The restaurant shimmers and glows as light bounces off the oak walls inlaid with golden beveled mirror detailing.

A 30-foot long marble bar, inspired by France and America’s grand hotel bars sets the stage for a dramatic yet intimate design, as sculpted bronze and smoked mirrored shelving displays backlit liquor bottles. Tailor-made furniture and fixtures such as soft leather stools, playful fringed lamps, bespoke billowing crystal chandeliers, and a custom ceiling mural in a whimsical combination of metallics and golds — the artist’s interpretation of whisky swirling in a tumbler — create a visually rich environment, bringing together culture, architecture, ecology and landscape in single space.

OCAD’s first satellite campus brings their trademark brand further east

The name CO says a lot in only two letters, describing a facility that works at the intersection of collaboration, community and co-design. OCAD U CO was conceived as an executive training studio where companies can use facilitated processes cultivated from the university’s focus on design thinking and creative problem-solving to drive major change in their organizations. Located at the Daniels City of the Arts building on the Toronto waterfront, the 14,000 square foot raw interior was long and narrow with sixteen-foot-high ceilings, with one of its greatest assets being its uninterrupted views of Lake Ontario. 

Interior Designer(s): Caroline Robbie, ARIDO

Design Team: Tor McGlade, Stephanie Wiebe

Design Firm: BDQ Quadrangle

Photographer: Adrien Williams

Since this was to be OCAD’s first satellite project away from its McCaul Street campus, the design team saw the interior as an opportunity to take cues from the University’s iconic Sharp Centre for Design. Early in the research phase of exploring design options for the new campus, the CO design team distributed surveys to elicit what people associated with OCAD. Strong colour blocking and elements of the unexpected, were rapidly identified as the most common significant elements of OCAD’s infamous identity. 

The design team decided to run with it, embracing the bold colours that reasserted OCAD’s characteristic identity of creativity and artistic fun. Contrasting the vibrancy of the Sharp inspired design, a black and white pixelated identity, that also informs the University’s trademark brand, was incorporated into the accessible gender-neutral washroom, linking it with the Tabletop’s signature façade. The resultant design creates a stimulating visual and psychological connection between the two campuses, which jumpstarts the creative thinking process with its open, airy spaces, and energizing jolts of colour. 

Though typical workplace interiors tend to be muted and generic, the new CO design intentionally embraces shocking colours, to purposefully induce a sense of being slightly unhinged. The interior is organized into clear, distinguishable zones for reception, studios,  administration, AV loans, individual workspaces, and meeting areas, as bold colours are further activated within the space to assist with wayfinding and place identity. Connecting the space’s characteristic colour and pixelation at dramatically different scales, from the micro seen on vision strips to medium-scale tiling details, the design emulates the macro scale of the McCaul Street Tabletop. 

Each section of CO has is marked by its respective level of public or private exposure and colour. The open kitchenette forms a natural hearth for the relaxed, common area with its bright red cappuccino maker, inviting visitors to linger and get comfortable at the heart of the space. Floating wood ceilings in the Innovation Studios keep voices isolated within each space and discretely integrate AV, mechanical, and lighting, to facilitate a functional and visually appealing design. 

The client requested spaces that could be flexible for a variety of activities and to easily evolve over time. Maximizing flexibility, the designers outfitted the largest interconnected studios with operable walls, enabling these rooms to be combined with the open collaboration zone, transforming it into a single 160-foot long event space. Maximizing usable space, the designers were able to carve out two feet from the base building mechanical and electrical rooms to create colour blocked niches with built-in benches and drop-down desks for private or shared study.

The project brings design thinking to life in a bold, yet branded environment. Facilitating interactive workshops, CO blends the professionalism required for successful change management with the playfulness of an arts school, inspiring new and creative approaches to problem-solving.

Elements of Chinese architectural history are key components of this restaurant’s design

Now opening its seventh location, Congee Queen wanted to incorporate elements of Chinese culture to reach out to new customers while maintaining their iconic brand for existing ones. The seating layout maximizes seating while providing a stunning visual experience from any angle of the restaurant. 

Interior Designer: Joe Cho, ARIDO 
Design Team: Long Wu, Derek Yeung
Design Firm: J.Cho Design
Project Photographer: AZ Photography 

Customers entering feel the vibe of a traditional Chinese restaurant but are greeted with a modern ceiling that emulates one of China’s most iconic and traditional buildings, the Temple of Heaven. Dissecting its architectural features, we were able to create key interior components that recall this important building and its architectural markers.  

Two columns were added to the layout, to balance two existing load-bearing columns and place greater emphasis on a centralized ceiling sculpture in the space. The columns are a visual cue that leads the eye to the massive sculpture composed of glowing curved elements. The design team tried several different configurations before finding the perfect angle for each suspended piece. An inky graphic of a dragon, an auspicious symbol of power, strength, and good luck in Chinese culture, done in a swirling indigo welcomes customers inside.  

The focus on traditional elements is emphasized with architectural details such as traditional Chinese rooftop edges on the ends of millwork dividers, and black lacquer and bronze accents found in traditional Chinese wooden doors at the host stand. The dragon visual element is recalled in the striated blue marble tables and continues around the surrounding walls, each element extending the customer’s impression of being amongst the clouds. 

Beyond COVID-19: How the pandemic will shape restaurant design

As the pandemic continues, there is a change in how we live our lives in all aspects. It is commonly referred to as the “new-normal”.  With this restaurant/bar concept we focus on a rooftop design, as outdoor spaces are proven to be safer in preventing virus spread. Could this be the “new-normal” in restaurant design?

Floorplan of restaurant

RESTAURANT / BAR

This floor plan depicts our Room-within-a-Room™ philosophy, which is critical today, not only for social distancing but for the security and safety of the guests and staff. As you walk through the space, you can see the fiancée meeting the parents of the bride for the first time; a group of guys getting together in a room to play games and watch sports; the book club that meets every month; family gatherings; the couple out for a date; the single business travelers wanting a drink while catching up on emails and the happy bar fly wanting to socialize with others.

Rendering of bar with rectangular counter in centre of the space with hanging storage overhead.

The bar limits direct contact between the bartender and patron with a deeper counter surface and a conveyor system behind Plexiglas. When the drink arrives at the allocated seat, the small glass panel will retract into the bar and redeploy once the drink is safely in the hands of the thirsty customer. To separate the bar guests, there is a glass divider panel between each grouping of two people. The dividers can be lowered to allow groups of three to four to sit together. In addition, the glass will be digitally interactive where menu items can be ordered, and where weather, sports and the latest news can be viewed. 

Throughout the restaurant, individual booths give off a sense of being ensconced in a comfortable cocoon with full wall surrounds, a Hepa filter cleaning the air inside. These booths are popular as they add privacy and an air of exclusivity.

The Room-within-a-Room™ concept works well as the world slowly transitions to the “new normal”. It offers customers the comfort and security needed to enjoy a night or day out from isolation. Also it provides instant recognition by the guest that these individual spaces distance them from other guests, making it feel safe to enter. To top it off, it has multiple unique pockets of interest that creates a fun roof top bar drawing people to this hot spot.

This survivor-led project inspired a new phase of ARIDO’s charitable work

In 2018, ARIDO worked with BridgeNorth as our charity partner for the 2018-19 ROI Project. BridgeNorth exists to address and prevent the unique problems faced by survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. BridgeNorth provides programs to assist with their departure and transition from the sex industry by offering direct service to women, girls, and families affected by the sex industry.

Human trafficking is unfortunately widespread in Canada, with Ontario acting as a hub for the rest of the country, where two-thirds of human trafficking violations taking place here. The average age of young women who are lured and groomed into the industry is 13 years old and 93% of survivors are Canadians.

This project focused on the improvement and refresh of the head office located in York Region. This project was hugely moving and inspiring for the association and every person involved. Unlike previous ROI projects, the design team balanced the creation of a secure environment for clients attempting to exit a trafficked situation and the creation of a more secure space for existing clients. Details as minute as the furniture selection and placement were carefully considered by the design team, to try and prevent triggering of clients. New lockers let clients and staff feel agency and ownership of the space, as well as security of their belongings.

The addition of a shower allows incoming clients to bathe in a dignified and secure environment, something survivors of human trafficking are denied daily, while the creation of a fully functional kitchen provides a space to host cooking classes and offer new life skills to clients, helping them find secure employment outside of the sex industry.

“As designers, our job is to assist clients in creating a space for them that changes or helps the way they work and go to market. In this case, it has been an incredible experience to see and understand what design could do to impact a human experience and to directly impact the clients for the betterment of their lives. Aesthetics assist in the “feel” of the space, but the functionality of the space allows BridgeNorth the tools to reach many more people and help them with their next steps. We have been honoured to work on this project and be witness to this positive change.” Lead Designer, Lucia De Biasio, ARIDO, LDB Design Inc.

“This project has left a lasting impact upon ARIDO, our members, and our industry partners. It has led the ARIDO to shift our ROI objectives from improving an interior environment for a charitable organization to creating greater social impact by means of the Interior Design community. We are now focusing our efforts on leveraging our community and resources to provide a platform for the voices of trafficked Ontarians and raise awareness of this growing crime.” ARIDO Executive Director, Sharon Portelli.

The project would have not been possible without the generous support of ROI partners: Flat Iron Building Group Inc., Brigholme Interiors Group, Mohawk Group and Office Source + SCI Interiors

It was also supported by: 3form, Three H Furniture Systems, AMJ Campbell, Benjamin Moore, Camino Systems, Caplan’s Appliances, CaTech, Choice Office Installations, Daltile, Division9 Commercial Flooring, DPI-Construction, Doner Turrin Inc. EurOptimum, Four Seasons Drywall, Inc., G&P Millwork, Group Lacasse, Haworth, The HIDI Group, HiTek Window Film Solutions, Honeycomb Engineering, Horizon Mechanical Contractors, Impact Electrical & Mechanical Ltd, Keilhauer, Levey Industries Inc., LightArt, Liteline Corporation, Panolam Surface Systems, Paul DaCunha Architect Inc., PowerOp Electrical Contractors, Salex, Shoreway Flooring, Spec Furniture, Trillium Group, POI Business Interiors, Steelcase, Ultimate Decor Ltd.

ARIDO would like to express our deepest gratitude to the support of these companies and their staff, as well as the following people who were part of making the project happen.

Design Team
Lucia De Biasio, LDB Design Inc
Sakshi Kapoor, LDB Design Inc
Leah Watling, LDB Design Inc
Sojung Yoo, LDB Design Inc
Paul Da Cunha, Paul Da Cunha Architects

Fundraising and Donor Procurement Team
Mahesh Babooram, Office Source
Dayna Bradley, Brigholme
Lisa Gushue, Mohawk
Chelsea Powell, Flat Iron
Susan Quinn, Mohawk

Project and Construction Management
Carolyn Brown, DPI Construction Management
Elvio Di Simone, DPI Construction Management
Kevin Minnes, DPI Construction Management

Pre-Programming
Donna Dolan, Kearns Mancini Architects
Jordan Fang, ARIDO Intern Director
Karin Karak, K2 Designworks

Photography
Yianni Tong

Resources about Human Trafficking:
Human trafficking services and supports (Ontario.ca)

Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-833-900-1010
Hotline Website

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.