DMZ, or Digital Media Zone is a start-up accelerator at Ryerson University, where founders can get support for the next steps with their burgeoning businesses.
Interior Designer: Siavash Mahdieh, ARIDO
Design Firm: PULSINELLI
Photographer: Steve Tsai
Designed to engage the vibrant, young community of founders, who also need a formal space to host potential customers, investors, and experts, the space balances these two needs in the design.
The gray wall panelling and minimal aesthetic captures the raw spirit of the start-up culture but is attractive and comfortable for business-minded guests. There are several intimate seating options for guests in the high-traffic reception area which can serve the start-ups in the building.
A special visual emblem welcomes guests to the DMZ, and also becomes an area where guests can take photos and turn them into shareable moments for social media.
Across from the elevators, we created a large dark wood canopy with an open woven pattern to define the reception and seating area. Dark wood vinyl on the floor under the canopy, contrasts the soft white floor in the rest of the space, and demarcates this cozy nook.
On the left side of the reception, the waiting area is furnished with colourful seatbelt chairs and concrete coffee tables to further convey the playful and raw nature of the space.
The space lacks a window, or other natural light source, so the design team added diffused halo lighting around the gray wood wall panelling that wraps the walls. It provides a sense of lightness and visually connects the different areas.
Movement is added with the reflections created by the oversized, mirrored 3D DMZ signage that is positioned in the main seating area.
An interactive digital bulletin board welcomes guests off the elevators, and is housed in a sculptural wood wall. The natural oak, cut in geometric stripes, also wraps the reception desk, which links the two elements together.
A secondary lounge area was created beside the corridor that accesses the cafeteria. The wall in the area is cladd with custom upholstered panels to improve the acoustic quality in the space.
To encourage guests to take selfies to share on social media, we introduced the “Toronto Gallery”, a series of white painted 3D letters mounted on the wall panels. The letters spelling Toronto are sliced in half and positioned to be read from the reception area.
The vibrant space reflects the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the start-ups and creates a strong identity for DMZ.