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.

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.

Do we really need a Building Permit?

As an Interior Designer, I hear it time and time again…

“What? A building permit! Do we really need one? But it costs so much money!”

The simple answer is yes, you really do need one, but not for the reasons you may think.

The main reason for a building permit is not a money grab or a way to keep people employed. The real reason is to protect the public. To protect us in the event of a terrible catastrophe where there might be a fire or disaster. This is such an important issue that seems to be frequently overlooked.

On average each month I typically hear one or two stories about those who do not want to start the process of obtaining a building permit. As a Registered Interior Designer of ARIDO, a Building Qualified Interior Designer and Project Management Professional (PMP), I must uphold the integrity of the regulations created to ensure the safety of the public.

And I we do this by ensuring my clients and the public is aware that there is a process in place established by the provincial government which I must follow. As to the cost, there is a small fee, consultant costs, and some guidelines regarding a Permit Submission that your local Registered Interior Designer can help you follow.

Here is an easy Three-Step Guide to get you started in obtaining your building permit for your corporate premise, a back to base building landlord project, or when renovating your home:

1. Hire an Expert

A Registered Interior Designer can make this frustrating experience a breeze for you. They can provide you with information on upfront costs for the creation of the drawings required, confirm if engineering drawings are needed, advise on consulting fees, when an architect may need to be engaged, will follow up with the City to ensure the timelines are staying on track and advise on the permit costs. The money and time spend doing this early will save on potential insurance claims and will protect you or your employees later.

2. Apply & Wait

The Registered Interior Designer will apply for permit on your behalf ensuring all the proper paperwork is completed, will answer the city’s questions and after four (4) weeks for a typical Corporate Interior Retrofit project. Et Voila! You have the City’s approval to start construction! (Occasionally, we may experience longer wait times than normal but a Registered Interior Designer can advise you of potential delays in the process, especially if they have experienced them recently.)

3. Permit Received & Safety Established

Once the city provides the Building Permit, a Contractor with a WSIB & Insurance in place can begin construction, in collaboration with your prime consultant, your Interior Designer.

I look forward to continuing to see that safety is top of mind for everyday corporate, landlords, and homeowner decisions.

You Want an Interior Designer Who Tells You “No”

Hello! This is a “choose your own adventure” of an article. You can watch the video below, or if you prefer reading it you can also scroll below that to read the article. Enjoy!


…And why the best designers know that your happiness is more important than our portfolio.
Opinion alert! That last part of the statement is purely my opinion (and the opinion of interior designers, decorators and stylists I know and admire), but it’s an important distinction.

Let’s start with that title up there. What do you mean I want my interior designer to tell me, “No”? I thought I wanted a designer I get along with?

Yes, but that’s a subject for a future blog post! This is right along those lines though. Isn’t your real best friend the one that tells you that you have something in your teeth, or your shirt has ridden up on the back, or quietly tucks your tag into your shirt? A really great relationship with your designer also means they care enough to tell you when your choices are the best for your design or your home.

Why? Here at Sanura Design, our reason stems from a deep reason- I want you to love your space so much it makes you happy every time you see it. I’m not doing my job if you just get the picture you pointed out in the magazine.

A prime example can be seen above in our material palettes. These are all for our beloved Project Christiani in South Mississauga. Our client had visions of neutrals throughout, and immediately said she didn’t like wallpaper (and had visions of that awful 70s wallpaper that made us all hate wallpaper). We pushed her boundaries and put unexpected things in front of her- she ended up falling in love with two wallpapers, one for the powder room, and another a blue textured beauty that was installed in her office. We also found out a deep regret (after getting to know her), was a simple orange leather chair she passed up at a store years ago. She STILL thought about it.

You guessed it, we paired that orange leather chair with that blue wallpaper (well the image above is spoilers!), and she loves that space (paired with great wood textures). We never would have gotten to that design had I just taken her word for it and not pushed her a bit to show her a few things.

Here’s a little peek at the office:

So, we care about our clients, but what does that have to do with saying no? Well, this subject came up unexpectedly after we made a visit to our favourite showroom to choose cushions for our client’s sofa.

We had gone through the cushions to see what the client liked, and when she paired a few together that really didn’t go with the design vision, I told her so. I didn’t just say “no”, I told her why it didn’t go and suggested something that would go better. We ended up with a couple of great cushions for the sofa.

Our next visit, we discussed that exchange and my response was- isn’t that what she’s paying me for? It’s my job to tell her if what she’s picking out doesn’t go with the overall design. We’re never rude, but wouldn’t you rather I tell you the cushions don’t look that great, then me be too shy to say anything and your friends and family tell you they don’t look that great?

All that said, here’s where this article’s title comes in. In the end, if we explain why it’s not right for the space (providing there isn’t any safety concerns- those are different!), and you still just love it. Ok, let’s use it. Even if this makes for “bad portfolio photos”, your happiness as my client is much more important than my photos. We’ll then look at integrating that into the design, and as long as you love the space- it doesn’t matter what I think.

This hairstyling school lets vibrant colour pop against a modern backdrop

The project converted a raw, post and beam loft into ASK Academy by Schwarzkopf Professional, a professional training facility for hairdressing trends, technical skills, and business management. The 7,200 square foot space is also a retail showroom for Schwarzkopf products and a place for demonstrations, meetings, seminars, and launches.

Interior Designer: Valerie Gow, ARIDO

Design Firm: Gow Hastings Architects

Project Photographer: Tuxedo Boutique Marketing

This new space brought the Schwarzkopf academy from a characterless location near the airport to a bustling downtown Toronto neighbourhood. The client wanted the historic warehouse to house a teaching facility with 18 styling stations, washing areas, colour and cutting studios, two theory and colour classrooms, meeting and working space for international advisors, a student lounge, reception and retail space.

ASK Academy, Interior Designer: Valerie Gow, ARIDO. Design Firm: Gow Hastings Architects. Project Photographer: Tuxedo Boutique Marketing.

The space needed a professional and international ambiance that matched the rest of the ASK Academies worldwide. Yet, as the North American Flagship location, it also required some regional character, in a setting that enables it to stand out from its competitors and their teaching salons.

The design team built a new ceiling through part of the space, creating a polished interior for certain spaces, with slices of the raw shell revealed in others. The space is white and bright, and keeps messier parts of the academy, like the hair colouring section tucked away, like the ‘Colour Bar’ where students mix dyes.

ASK Academy, Interior Designer: Valerie Gow, ARIDO. Design Firm: Gow Hastings Architects. Project Photographer: Tuxedo Boutique Marketing.

The Colour Bar consists of stainless‐steel shelving filled with boxed dyes, and visually defines the interior’s identity with swaths of Schwarzkopf signature colours. Shelves located in front of windows vibrantly project Schwarzkopf’s presence to the street, while the open sections at counter level allow students to evaluate their mixes in natural light.

The student lounge is flexible and can easily become a formal presentation space by reconfiguring the furniture and closing floor‐to‐ceiling doors, letting the academy accommodate live events, and on‐line training, while the sophisticate ground floor space encourages walk‐in traffic for treatments and purchases.

ASK Academy, Interior Designer: Valerie Gow, ARIDO. Design Firm: Gow Hastings Architects. Project Photographer: Tuxedo Boutique Marketing.

Valerie Gow, ARIDO and her team were able to design a highly functional and professional space for the varied needs of this hairstyling brand.

The Art of Living Big in Small Spaces

City living has always been known as “tight” and “small” living, but not this time around. We call it “the art of living big’, no matter how small the space is. A space is a space, whether big or small, but the design is what introduces an element of fun and creativity.

At Sansa Interiors, we gave this project a soul by creating a way of being. We observed our clients and studied how they move, we found out their interests, their favourite colours, and their top travel destinations. We then took all of that and tailored it to a simple and clean dream apartment.

Our focus was to bring in subtle tones and finishes throughout the space with pops of colour. We experimented with manipulating positive and negative spaces to create a flow from one corner to the other.

The home office showcases the contrast between the clean white walls and the soft yet bold blush pink gallery wall and adjacent furniture. The furniture selection is very minimal and does not interfere with the ambient flow, instead, it helps create a successful grounding experience.

Some of the requirements we were given:

  1. Home office for two people
  2. A reading nook
  3. Clean/simple kitchen
  4. A place to retreat at the end of the day

Design Tips for Living Big:

  1. Mirrors near windows
  2. The more plants the better!
  3. A subtle colour palette with accent pieces to bring in pops of colour
  4. Minimal furniture
  5. Bring in your personality, via art pieces or woven pillows

Photography by Bruno Belli.

This modern home blends indoors and outdoors seamlessly.

As architects and interior designers on this project, the design team wanted to address the challenge of this east-west oriented lot in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood. Their goal was to maximize the southern exposure of this property and provide spaces for the clients to enjoy Canada’s short summer season to its fullest.

Interior Designer: Neal Prabhu, ARIDO

Design Firm: nkArchitect

Project Photographer: Peter A. Sellar

Located in Toronto’s Beaches district, the 150_W Residence

Creating an L-shaped outdoor space along the south west corner of the building offered an interesting solution: the full height moveable glass walls let ample winter sunlight inside, while in summer, the same walls slide away from the inside corner of the L opening up the indoor space to the outside.  

With the client’s busy work schedule and little down-time, the home needed to be a haven of tranquillity and calm, while providing space for relaxing and entertaining – a sanctuary, vacation spot and family home, with bright day‐lit interiors. Pragmatically, the clients and their growing family sought an open plan with flexibility in function and space, and outdoor living spaces easily accessible and visible from any point within the interior.

The home’s materials all extend this tranquillity, as the design team erected vast white walls, neutral wood finishes, stainless steel appliances, and dark wood flooring. The changing light and shadow patterns throughout the day, and seasonal patterns become the focal points in this neutral space.

With a focus on restraint and simplicity in materials complemented by the warmth of exterior surroundings, this home is a stunning backdrop for a growing urban family to enjoy their time together.

Interior design is key to expressing the brand experience

The design for Picnic Food’s first street-front shop had to reference previous iterations, in subterranean concourses, in a refreshed experience.

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

Design Firm: Mason Studio

Design Team: Marti Hawkins, Intern ARIDO

With more expansion in mind, an adaptable design needed features that would be both easily replicable as well as physically identifiable as key symbols of the brand experience. Repeated linear woven wood textures recall textiles commonly associated with picnics and become an iconic design element for future locations. The communal dining table returns on a trestle base while the lime and watermelon brand colours are present via with greenery in terracotta pots.

Pioneering the open plan office

In 2015, Jones Collombin approached Altius Architecture to design and manage the construction of a new office for their growing wealth management firm. When space became available in the architecturally significant TD Centre towers, with soaring views of downtown Toronto, the client seized upon the opportunity.

Interior Designer: Cathy Garrido

Design Firm: Altius Architecture

Photographer: Arnaud Marthouret

Jones Collombin sought meeting rooms of various sizes, private offices, open work stations, as well as the back of house spaces to support them – such as a print room, server area, employee kitchen, reception and waiting area, and cloak cupboards, all while preserving the views from the historic office tower to the outside.

A man sits at a desk with a wall of windows.

To address their largest challenge, the design team placed desks around an open plan and adopted a clean, modern aesthetic for the new interiors. The travertine of the elevator lobbies migrates into the reception area, Teknion glass and plywood partitions create necessary separations of spaces, while maintaining the sense of an open office. A light coloured, neutral palette and sophisticated lighting creates bright interior spaces that don’t feel devoid of natural light, despite the deep floor plate. Every desk has skyward views and access to natural daylight.

This project was completed in 2016, at a time when many offices didn’t prioritize equitable access to natural light for all employees. Such access to natural light and views has proven positive effects on employee wellbeing and promotes productivity.

The historic importance of the building can’t be overstated, designed by original star-chitect, Mies van der Rohe, the TD Centre is a stunning example of the International Style of architecture that swept through the 1960s. Jones Collombin’s office maximizes the stunning views of their TD Centre offices while ensuring each employee can enjoy them.