Canadian Interiors


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50-50

50 great Canadian interiors, from 50 years of Canadian Interiors


1960s

1—WORTH SAVING

National Trust Building, Toronto

Design by Alison Bain Ltd.; architects: Marani Morris

In the very first issue of CI, David Piper, the very first editor of CI, writes, “Only the board room, the president’s and executive president’s office have antiques. The over-all mood is thus progressive and twentieth century.” To wit: marble walls of dark green and cream; burnished copper-coloured carpet; and Knoll and Swiss design copper-coloured chairs.

April 1964

2–TAKE A GANDER

Gander Airport lounge,
Gander, NF

Design by Chris Sorensen; architects: Durnford, Bolton, Chadwick and Ellwood

Original caption: “Colour scheme in lounge, pleasant rather than violent, to calm nervous and excited passengers, is range of blue and greens.” (Remember when flying was glamorous?) The furniture is 99 per cent Canadian designed and manufactured.

May 1964

3—COTTAGE LIFE

Cottage, Canadian exhibit,
13th Triennale, Milan

Interior design by Jacques St-Cyr; architect: Schoeler and Barkham 

After a six-year absence, Canada returned to Milan with a vengeance, winning the Gold Medal. As CI’s assistant editor Madge Phillips writes, “What, the members decided, could be more Canadian than a summer cottage. And a summer cottage it is, sitting in the midst of Italian greenery and making the viewer feel he [sic] has walked into the Canadian Northland.” Colours inside range from cool blues to soft beiges, set off by cedar panelling. (By the way: Jacques St-Cyr, who designed the interiors, also designed the Canadian flag.)  

August 1964

4—MEMBERS ONLY

City Hall member’s lounge, Toronto

Design by Knoll Canada; architect: Viljo Revell

John Quigg’s glass-topped table with wood base; along with Warren Platner chairs designed for Knoll and made in Canada, plus tables. (Cut to 2013: it was the recent purchase of 30 replicas of the Platner chairs, for $75,000, that sent Mayor Ford into a major hissy fit; the originals, in disrepair, had been refurbished in the past.)  In his editor’s column, David Piper writes, “The furniture makes a strong personal imprint, in the same manner that the building itself does. The whole thing shows courage and integrity, is an attempt to capture the truth of an artistic idea and to carry it through with force and clarity.” 

May 1966

5—IN THREES

Three Small Rooms,
Windsor Arms, Toronto

Design by Janis Kravis

One of the “three small rooms” of Toronto’s first sophisticated restaurant (the story goes), highly influential at the time. Walled in dark-brown brick, the Wine Cellar featured chairs with fumed-oak frames and natural leather cushions, grouped around
tables of laminated oak.  

June 1967

6—NATURAL HABITAT

Habitat interior, Expo 67, Montreal

Design by Alison Hymas, Webb, Zerafa, Menkes; architect: Moshe Safdie

One of 12 Habitat display suites, furnished by Canadian designers and Canadian manufacturers. Writes Hymas, “I felt the problem required architect-type furniture which represented a continuation of the architectural forms, with an attempt to underplay the furniture and leave the interior volume to express itself strongly.”

September 1967

7—ACCORDING TO ARTHUR ERICKSON

House in British Columbia

Architect: Arthur Erickson

One of Canada’s most distinguished architects, Erickson (1924–2009) is quoted as saying, “The form and arrangement of a house should come out of the site; the character should be suggested by the clients – how they live, what kind of materials they’re used to.” Case in point: a house for a couple, he a painter, she a weaver – with the interior wood left rough and a fireplace made of concrete.

January 1968

8—GOOD RECEPTION

Offices of Arthur Andersen & Co., TD Centre, Toronto

Design by J&J Brook

The lobby of the international accounting firm is fully panelled in sequenced matched walnut. On the west wall (at right) is an 18-foot-long relief map of the world: 140,000 birch pegs, set on two levels, describe areas of land and sea; acrylic pegs pinpoint Arthur Andersen offices. The groovy ceiling is sculpted cast plaster.

September 1968

9—NATIONAL PRIDE

National Arts Centre, Ottawa

Architects: project architect A.B. Nichol; consulting architects Affleck Dimakopoulos Lebensold Size

Here come the ‘70s. On the way to the Studio, a colourful mural by William Ronald: “Suddenly, the entire space opens up in a burst of marvellous colour and pattern.”

September 1969

1970s

1—SCIENTIFIC METHOD

Ontario Science Centre, Toronto

Design by G. Ronning-Philip; architect: Raymond Moriyami

As contributing editor Alan Moody puts its, “Escalators lead from the auditorium on the conical hill down into the ravine to the exhibition halls. To quote the architects, ‘The buildings are like a strip show, facets and aspects and views developing as one goes along.’ A treatment of large mass concrete walls contrasts the window areas, out of which the visitor overlooks the view.”

July 1970

 2—HAIR TODAY

Vidal Sassoon salon, York Square, Toronto

Design by AJ Diamond and Barton Myers

Shag haircut, anyone? In a well (at right in photo), a stair rises three storeys to a huge skylight, the space penetrating the building.

September 1971

3—WINNING IN WINNIPEG

Centennial Hall, University of Winnipeg

Architects: Moody Moore Duncan Rattray Peters Searle Christie

The Expansion ’70 program at the Univerity of Winnipeg is the second stage of growth, and includes a major multimedia library facility with extensive additions to the academic and teaching areas; the architects endeavour to design a flexible system that can readily adapt itself to changing factors in the years ahead. Cafeterias run all along the fourth floor and fourth-floor mezzanine corridor areas. Stairwell, ducts, trusses and services are white; rails are yellow.

February 1973

4—IT’S A GAS

Offices for Cockfield, Brown and Co., Vancouver

Architect: Werner Forster

On the top floor of the old Kelly Douglas warehouse in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood (then experiencing a resurgence),
good structural brick and concrete to work with, along with unusual 1½-to-two-storey spaces originally housing freightelevators – ideal for a “far out” ad agency.

May 1973

5—EVERGREEN

Offices for Greenshields, Toronto

Design by Rice-Brydone Limited Design Consultants

“The Greenshields job [on the 12th floor of Toronto’s historic Bank of Commerce Building] demonstrates the Rice-Brydone style, where antique chests of drawers and French bronze candlesticks are all mixed withthe best of contemporary.” 

June 1973

6—TRÈS CHIC

Rive Gauche fashion shop, Montreal

Design by Goyette Duplessis; architect: Joe Dunne

As writer Cynthia Gunn tells it, “Modern chic, Champs Elysée French, expensive but not outrageously so – that’s the design image of Rive Gauche which the 5½-year-old design firm of Goyette Duplessis tried to recreate in an old St. Catherine St. building in Montreal, situated across from an A&W and just a few buildings away from a new Howard Johnson’s restaurant.” In the entrance lobby, steps from rue Sainte-Catherine, early-’70s high style: blue ceramic tile, stainless steel, and Plexiglas tubes lit from above.

August 1973

7—HERMAN MILLER, HERE

Her
man Miller showroom, Toronto

Design by Doug Stead and Jo-Anne Vandervelde, Herman Miller Ltd.

The two-storey space in a penthouse on University Avenue had never been occupied, offering Herman Miller a blank canvas.
The upper floor is set back forming a balcony from which the lower floor can be seen. Good carpeting and Herman Miller furniture are all that’s needed.

November 1975

8—CENTRE OF IT ALL

The Eaton Centre, Toronto 

Architect: The Ziedler Partnership

Can one imagine Toronto without it? Writes the late architect George Robb, then a CI contributor, “Much of the architecture of the centre considered by itself is of a very high order, but the fragmented nature of the overall assembly does produce some peculiar results.” In his editor’s column, David Piper writes, “The Eaton Centre project is a very good object lesson in almost all aspects of design….The design team included town planners, architects, interior designers, industrial designers, civil, structural and electrical engineers, acoustical consultants, flooring consultants, lighting consultants, store planning consultants, and many others….It is not possible for any design discipline to hide in its ivory tower.”

September 1977

9—BACHELOR ARTS

Bachelor pad, Yorkville Village, Toronto

Design by Peter Rice

To quote editor David Piper, “It started spontaneously when Italian furniture importer George Bartello, designer Peter Rice and display artist Scott Craigie renovated warehouse space in the fashionable Yorkville Village area of Toronto.” To quote H.W. (KC) Casey and Richard Finch, “Oh, that’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh / I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh.”

June 1978

1980s

1—METROPOLITAN LIFE

Lucien D’Allier Metro station, Montreal

Architect: David, Boulva, Cleve

Monumental dimensions were used by the architects to create the effect of an underground cathedral with arches and vaulted ceilings. Let there be light – 85 feet into rock.

January 1981

2—MALL OF MALLS

West Edmonton Mall

Architect: Maurice Sunderland Architects Inc.

Welcome to the decade of excess: marble and mirrors and bronze, oh my. Once promoted as the “8th wonder of the world,” WEM is still the largest shopping mall in North America. Its centre court soars 50 feet to an atrium ceiling; 35-foot trees – the tallest ever placed in a Canadian mall – grow toward the light. The fountain’s 19 jets of water “dance” in time to music. 

November 1981

3—INSIDE 24 SUSSEX DRIVE

Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Ottawa

Redecoration by Margaret Trudeau

Photographs of the P.M.’s digs were released to Canadian Interiors in 1978. The fireplace is surrounded by matching tuxedo-style sofas, covered in off-white silk corduroy; the coffee table is bronze, with a smoked-glass surface. The painting over the fireplace is by Paul-Émile Borduas, one of the fathers of modert art in Quebec. 

May 1982

4—THE JOY OF ROY

Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto

Architects: Arthur Erickson/Mathers and Haldenby Asssociate Architects

From CI’s news section: “On the evening of Sept. 13 in Toronto, an elegant, formal crowd of 2,800 gathered to approve Arthur
Erickson’s latest design project – Roy Thomson Hall. The gala opening audience included the design as well as the concert,
and the event was as impeccably executed as the hall itself.” Writes editorial contributor Rick Book, “Erickson wanted a showpiece, a design that enabled the people outside to see what was going on inside the building at night. In the darkness, it is a house of glass. Passersby stop. Like children with faces pressed against the window, they watch the people on the grand staircase, sneaking glances at each other in the kaleidoscope of mirrors – offering a million changing reflections of the curtain wall.”

October 1982

5—LET US ENTERTAIN YOU

Zanzibar Tavern, Toronto

Design by Fred Parera, Martin Hirschberg Design

“The client [the infamous ’burlesque’ club on the lower end of Yonge Street],” Parera tells the writer, Richard Cadoret, “wanted to divest the club of its backroom image and make it festive and colourful – to legitimize the place.” Cadoret weighs in: “The tone is set with bright wall graphics and white female mannequins reminiscent of those in the Milk Bar sequence of Stanley Kurbick’s A Clockwork Orange.” Not shown is the dance stage with Lucite shower stall, designed to “clean up the act.”

September 1985

6—SPECIAL OF THE DAY

Ediner, Yorkville Shopping Centre, Toronto

Design by Duro Bicanic, Jedd Jones Architect Ltd.

A salute to the streamlined look characteristic of 1930s “moderne“ design, in a diner made to look
like Hollywood’s notion of a city streetcar. The now classic “diner” materials – vinyl, Formica,
laminates, stainless-steel panels, terrazzo, quarry tile and glass block – are perfectly balanced.

April 1986

7—STRUTTING THEIR STUFF

Gianni Versace shop, Leone deparment store, Vancouver

Design by Yabu Pushelberg

Toronto-based Yabu Pushelberg is the first non-Italian firm to be asked to design a high-end men’s-fashion shop for Gianni Versace. Partners George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg create a suitably sleek and sophisticated environment: the floors are granite with flamed-granite diamond inserts; the metal is polished raw steel; and the walls are a subtle grey stucco.

September 1987

8—CITYTV LIMITS

CITY-TV studios, Toronto

Design by Quadrangle Architects

As the display copy sums up rather elegantly, “Toronto’s CITY-TV is television verité. ‘Behind the scenes’ are the scenes.” The
design team created a city within an early-1900s building on Queen Street West: corridors equal streets; departments equal storefronts. A pavilion set over the executive waiting area (shown) functions as the city square.

July 1989

9—STEELCASE IN MONTREAL

Steelcase showroom, Montreal

Design by Jill Hogan, Moureaux Haupsy, with MH’s George Haupsy and the Steelcase team

The reception area introduces the curves and motifs that set the tone of the one-level, 8,600-square-foot showroom. Elliptical lines cut through the theatrically lit main area; drama comes from an emphasis on texture and colour.

September 1989

1990s

1-WINTER OF OUR CONTENT

Winter Garden Theatre, Toronto

Restoration by architect Mandel Sprachman and restoration consultant David Hannivan

In 1913, a double-decker theatre was built in Toronto – with Lowe’s Yonge Street (later the Elgin) on the bottom and the Winter Garden on top. As B. Prosser Thomas writes, “the whimsical Winter Garden was closed in 1928 in a peculiar way. With its silent [film] projector in place and vaudeville scenery still suspended, the doors were simply shut, sealing up the theatre.” Cut to 1982, when the restoration of the Elgin and Winter Garden began. A particular challenge, the Winter Garden’s trompe l’oeil walls were painstakingly restored employing a technique for cleaning museum documents; workers went through over 1,000 pounds of flour to make bread dough to roll over surfaces, picking up dirt and soot.

January 1990

2—HOW CIVILIZED

The Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, QC

Architects: Douglas J. Cardinal Architect Limited, in association with Tétreault, Parent, Languedoc et Associés

According to the visionary Cardinal, the curved shapes that characterize the
commanding project are not an arbitrary choice: “The museum will be symbolic in form. It will speak of the emergence of this continent, its forms sculpted by the winds, the rivers, the glaciers.” The suspended staircase (far left) at the end of the Grand Hall soars through three storeys. In the Hall itself (left), columns on the glazed wall are individually shaped to diffuse sunlight.

January 1990

3—LIBRARY ARTS

Vancouver Public Library

Architect: Moshe Safdie

Controversial from the get-go, the Roman Colosseum–like building by the Canadian-Israeli architect is an engaging civic space to some, a postmodern folly to others. Safdie defends it as “a high-tech building of the highest order.” Furniture and fixtures in the outer reading arcades boast the warmth of cherry wood and oxidized metal.

May/June 1995

4—FUN & SUN

Toronto Sun offices, Toronto

Design by Burt Manion Interior Design Limited

The main reception area of  “the little paper that grew” features ¾-inch sandblasted electronic security doors. Austrian cut-glass prisms catch and reflect natural and artificial light.

May/June 1992

5—MAKE AN INVESTMENT

Office for Harley Street Holdings Inc., Vancouver

Design by Ian Dubienski and Loren Cavallin, Group 5 Design Associates Ltd.

“The instructions I gave were fairly straightforward,” Harley Street Holdings president George Killy is quoted as saying. “I wanted a fun place that I would enjoy spending my work day in and that also had good display space for my art collection.”    

October/November 1996

5—ZOOM, ZOOM…

Zoom Caffe and Bar,
Toronto

Design by II BY IV

Zoom took Toronto by storm, for both its dishes and its design.
II BY IV transformed a cavernous banking area into a dramatic collection of intimate spaces.
A trio of massive custom-designed spheres suspended on steel rods visually lower the height of the room – 23 feet at its highest point.

May/June 1998

7—HOW SWEET!

Mozart pastry shop, Toronto

Design by Burdi Filek

Diego Burdi and Paul Filek of Burdi Filek (now Burdifilek) have always been known for playful experimentation. Case in point: Mozart, a 500-square-foot pastry shop whose Art Deco touches include rounded corners in the walls, display fixturing and dark-ash framing, plus retro colours.

September 1999

8—MARITIME MODERNISM

Howard house, West Pennant, NS

Architect: Brian MacKay-Lyons

The Halifax-based architect creates a Modernist, scupltural object facing the ocean. Main-floor views north and south reveal, in the words of editor David Lasker, “a Miesian‘universal space,’ without partitians.” A trough of maple millwork panels and grey ceramic tile turn up along the wall from the polished concrete floor, making a wainscotting sill.

November/December 1999

9—THE MASTER’S TOUCH

Del Prado lofts display suite, Vancouver

Design by Robert M. Ledingham Design Consultants

Characteristic refinement from the much-honoured, internationally known designer. The walls of the living room at
the display suite in the Yaletown neighbourhood are zoned into Mondrianesque sectors of maple cabinetry, a fireplace surround of industrial metal and white drywall.

November/December 1999

2000s

1—PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE

Famous Players Paramount Festival Hall, Toronto

Design by Andrew Gallici, International Design Group

Over the top we go in the multiplex movie-theatre flagship. The Vivid lounge-bar pays homage to “1970s-vintage Star Wars high tech and ’60s space camp (à la Barbarella and The Jetsons).” Highlights include a continuous silver banquette, with round and oval holes cut out; and, overhead, several large hemispheres covered in metallic reflective sequins.

September 2000

2—MUSKOKA LIFE

Muskoka boathouse, ON

Design by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects

“In a stylish update of the vernacular Muskoka decor, the sleeping cabin transforms the traditional Victorian ceiling of beadboard (cottage-style, tongue-in-groove panelling) into a shaped, Douglas fir ceiling,” writes editor David Lasker.
”The curving form marks a rare Shim-Sutcliffe departure from rectileanearity.”

November 2001 

3—ICE, ICE BABY

Ice Hotel, 10 km east of Quebec City

Design by Jacques Debois, with ice sculptor Michel Lepire

A total of 4,500 tons of snow and 250 tons of ice were used in building the first ice hotel in the Great White North. The narrow lobby (shown) features a 16-foot-high vaulted ceiling supported by a double row of stocky, crystalline ice columns. 

March/April 2001

1—PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE

Famous Players Paramount Festival Hall, Toronto

Design by Andrew Gallici,
International Design Group

Over the top we go in the multiplex movie-theatre flagship. The
Vivid lounge-bar pays homage to “1970s-vintage Star Wars high
tech and ’60s space camp (à la Barbarella and The Jetsons).” Highlights include a continuous silver banquette, with round and oval holes cut out; and, overhead, several large hemispheres covered in metallic reflective sequins.

September 2000

2—MUSKOKA LIFE

Muskoka boathouse, ON

Design by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects

“In a stylish update of the
vernacular Muskoka decor, the sleeping cabin transforms the traditional Victorian ceiling
of beadboard (cottage-style,
tongue-in-groove panelling) into
a shaped, Douglas fir ceiling,” writes editor David Lasker.
”The curving form marks a rare Shim-Sutcliffe departure from rectileanearity.”

November 2001 

3—ICE, ICE BABY

Ice Hotel, 10 km east
of Quebec City

Design by Jacques Debois,
with ice sculptor Michel Lepire

A total of 4,500 tons of snow
and 250 tons of ice were used in building the first ice hotel in the Great White North. The narrow lobby (bottom) features a 16-foot-high vaulted ceiling supported by a double row of stocky, crystalline ice columns. A suite (top) also features towering ice columns.

March/April 2001

4—LOUNGING AROUND

Lexus Lounge, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto

Design by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg

Fresh from its triumphant renovation of Roy Thomson Hall’s audience chamber, KPMB creates a sleek, brand-new space. On
an existing flat, concrete wall, a maple sleeve adds visual warmth. Illumination was inspired by the diffused side lighting used in photo studios and the overhead point lighting on theatre stages.

July/August 2004

5—INSIDE OUT

Home for Claude Cormier, Montreal

Design by Jacques Bilodeau

For conceptual landscape architect Claude Cormier, Bilodeau constructs a contemporary interior landscape. Highly unconventional, the house is structured through a series of platforms that suggest plains of inhabitation, rather than delineating rooms. Dark walnut parquet gives uniformity to a lively composition of slopes and plateaus.

September/October 2004

6—KID STUFF

Waterloo Children’s Museum, Kitchener, ON

Architect: Levitt Goodman Architects

In designing the museum, the Toronto architectural firm had a superior shell to work with: the old Goudy’s department store, once the jewel of Kitchener’s main drag. Stripping back the building to its 1870s steel skeleton gave the design team a remarkable vocabulary to incorporate into the museum’s “exploration of art and technology” mandate. The “planetary wall” in the atrium playfully introduces a circular motif.

Ma
y/June 2005

7—HOW CANADIAN

Offices for Inco Special Projects, Mississauga, ON

Design by Inger Barlett & Associates

In the reception area, Bartlett chose a material palette reflecting Inco and Canadian themes. Maple clads the cantilevered ceiling sector; the slatted canopy and metal detailing throughout feature stainless steel, a nickel alloy.

July/August 2006

8—STURDY STUFF

Gallery M gallery/showroom, Vancouver

Design by Martha Sturdy 

In the new gallery/showroom, replacing Sturdy’s former retail outlet, a room vignette boasts an illuminated chair in the designer’s signature resin material. 

March/April 2007

9—LET THERE BE LIGHT

Umbra store, Toronto

Design by Figure 3; architect: Kohn Shnier

In 2007, much of the buzz in Toronto concerned Umbra’s first stand-alone store in a storied building just off Queen Street West. Bathed in light from a southern-facing wall of windows, a wide concrete staircase leads to the second floor. Everything in the interior is clear, transparent, floating in stark white, with Umbra products providing colour.

September/October 2007

10—A BLANK CANVAS

Offices for Nolin/BBDO, Montreal

Design by Daoust Lestage

For the branding, advertising and marketing firm, Daoust Lestage created a stark space to spark the imagination. A 27-foot-long structure runs the length of reception – a desk at one end, a white-leather lounge at the other, and a steel-and-glass chandelier overhead. A bright-red carpet runner reflects the firm’s corporate brand.

January/February 2008

2010s

1—FANCIFUL

The Room at the Bay, Hudson’s Bay Company, Toronto 

Design by Yabu Pushelberg

From fabulously successful George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, some characteristic magic. The duo divided the 20,000-square-foot space into distinct areas delineated with permeable screens. Writes associate editor David Lasker, “The screens’ openness allows daylight to flow unimpeded, which reflects and sparkles on the silvery metal fittings, gleaming glass and white-on-white scheme.”

Best of Canada, 2010

2—RAW MATERIALS

Offices of Lemay Michaud Architecture Design, Montreal

Design by Lemay Michaud

The rough with the smooth; the old with the new. “The elongated lobby acts as a telescope, focusing attention toward a peek-a-boo screen, partly concealed by a grey pavilion,” writes associate editor Rhys Phillips. “Behind the screen, a sliver of glazing fronting a raised boardroom is left visible.”  

September/October 2011

3—EVERYONE INTO THE POOL

Saint-Hyacinth Aquatic Recreational Centre, Saint-Hyacinth, QC

Architecture: ACDF* Architecture

Associate editor Leslie C. Smith at her most eloquent: “Kinetic activity abounds, and this energy is mirrored, apparently frozen, in the huge ceiling overhead – a ceiling made up of multiple fragments of white, oblique shapes floating in space. Bringing to mind a shelter within an imaginary iceberg, the setting appears glacially cool, majestically calm, cathedral-ish yet secular.”

September/October 2012

4—GOOD WOOD
Xthum, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, BC

Design by Public: Architecture + Communication

An aboriginal gathering place of uncommon grace (“Xthum” is a Hul’qumi’num word meaning basket and drum). As contributing writer Adele Weder puts it, “A small jewel of a project, the gathering place is designed in one corner of Kwantlen’s “C” Building, warming a starkly officious space with reams of cedar strips that curve from wall to ceiling and crest into what looks like a breaking wave at the top of the room.” 

March/April 2013



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