IDC’s Sarah Bradbury caught up with Randa Tukan of HOK Canada Inc. to learn more about Ridgewood II
As one of the fastest-growing boroughs of the Greater Toronto Area, Aurora maintains an identity that is a little bit city and a little bit country. It’s this mix of urban convenience and small-town community that inspired the design for Ridgewood II. The sprawling condominium residence offers a resort lifestyle with hotel-like amenities, but with a relaxed, comfortable, and inviting atmosphere. Randa Tukan, ARIDO Registered member and Senior Vice President and Director of Hospitality at HOK Canada Inc., took this juxtaposition into careful consideration when designing this suburban sanctuary.
Could you tell us a bit about your background?
I studied interior design at the Maryland Institute of Art in the United States. I worked for a few years in interior design, then went back for a Masters of Fine Arts at Harvard University. During my studies I worked part-time as a researcher in an urban planning and design firm, before returning to Canada and joining the interiors group at HOK. I currently lead HOK’s global hospitality design group based here, in Toronto.
What drew you to a career in interior design?
I grew up surrounded by architecture — my father was an architect. I would always imagine myself on the inside of the buildings he designed, trying to picture what they looked like and felt like from the inside, looking out. I enjoy the challenge of visualizing a space before it is built, considering all the different ways that one might want to use or experience the space, and then making it all become real.
Can you explain what interior design is and why it’s important?
Interior design is the art and science of designing an interior space. It is about creating a meaningful experience; it is about creating opportunities to connect, engage, and enhance the quality of our surroundings. The design solution should support the functional use of the space and the life, safety, and well-being of its users, while paying close attention to aesthetics.
How did you decide on a theme or concept for this project?
Our client, The Rockport Group, was looking to create a resort lifestyle for phase II of the Ridgewood development in Aurora. By listening to the client, as well as taking into account the goal for the development, we felt it was important to create a hotel-like ambiance from the moment you walk through the front doors.
What were your primary sources of design inspiration?
We always consider the context, or the location, that we are working within. It is the first step towards making a meaningful connection. For this project, the character and personality of Aurora was at the heart of the design concept. We combined contemporary living with the region’s charming heritage by mixing urban amenities with a small-town feel.
How did the square footage affect the design?
The beauty of designing a project in Aurora is that there is a more generous amount of space available. In the lobby for example, it allowed us to have a couple of seating areas to better express the hotel-like atmosphere and lobby experience. We were able to achieve a light-filled space where residents can engage with the rest of their community, their surroundings, and be more connected to the building’s two entrances.
What areas of the condo were you responsible for designing?
We provided our input on unit planning and created three interior suite designs for the buyer to choose from. We also designed all the public areas and amenities including the lobby, pool table and games area, spa pool with change rooms and showers, and a fitness room with yoga and a stretch area. Every aspect was designed to complement the overall interior concept of the project.
Why is it important to have well-designed interior space?
Well-designed interior space is thoughtful, taking into consideration the people who use it, their lifestyle, and the specific use of the space. Well-designed space will seamlessly support and enhance that lifestyle and use.
What elements of the design reflect the target audience?
The target audience is slightly more mature, empty-nesters, and those who are seeking a laid-back, relaxed lifestyle. The ample space in the amenity areas allows empty-nesters, for example, to have family gatherings in the private dining room, or to host their extended family or grandchildren in the lounge around the fireplace. We wanted to use the amenity space as a great alternative for those who have moved away from large suburban homes for a more active and carefree lifestyle, without having to give up the space to gather with family and friends.
What were some unique features and materials used in this project?
The overall colours, palette, and materials work together to form a classic yet contemporary, high-end hotel feel without being too formal or pretentious. Features such as the central fireplace in the lounge create a comfortable, homey feeling. It is about finding that balance between the two.
What kinds of challenges did you face during this project?
Not unlike all residential projects, there is a time lag between the onset of the design stage, the sale process, and the completion of the building. It is the nature of the industry. The challenge is always how to design today for a project that will be completed a few years later, all the while ensuring that the design remains relevant and withstands the test of time, upon completion and beyond.
To work with an interior designer on your next project, search IDC’s online database FINDinteriordesigner.org.