SDI Interior Design designed the offices of law firm Smart & Biggar LLP, located in Toronto, Canada.
Smart & Biggar is the largest law firm in Canada practising exclusively in the areas of Intellectual Property and Technology. As such they are an organization which is fully immersed in both present day social issues and the anticipation of future trends. But they are also a company that is more than a century old, so they sit upon an impressively solid foundation with a long and enviable history. It is this grounded position, demanding views both forward and backward looking, that informs the design of their new Toronto home.
The firm wished to provide a more modern and open environment for their clients than traditional legal offices. As such, the “front of house” area was designed to be spacious and flowing, with a generous reception area moving transparently into a café space that is shared by both staff and visitors. This transparency permits the interior reception area to borrow ample daylight from the perimeter windows, and it allows clients to feel welcomed into the Smart & Biggar family home.
Several spacious meeting spaces are also accessed from reception, with the waiting area simultaneously providing adequate room for several groups while offering a lounge-like atmosphere with a sub hierarchy of more intimate seating areas.
With a nod to the history and studious practices of patent law the back of the house is arranged in a more traditional layout, yet shared meeting and library spaces are positioned to provide staff with maximum access to daylight.
At the time of the formation of Smart & Biggar, Canada was in the process of being carved out of the rocks and trees that are native to our country. Those historic and geographic references form a conceptual foundation for the development of the design vocabulary for the new office. With the use of polished stone flooring the ground plane of the reception and waiting areas are solidly anchored in rock. Outcroppings common to the Canadian Shield are rendered in a crisp long wall of marble. The balance of the walls are clad in oak veneer, cradling the visitor within a protective clearing of the venerable ancient forest.
An allusion to falling water becomes a screen to enhance intimacy within the space, the water collecting in blue pools which anchor the primary seating areas. Overhead, twinkling light is filtered through the tree canopy. Passing through the trees leads one to areas of prospect, the meeting rooms, with views out over the surroundings. The café, with its wood floors and comfortable seating, provides shelter, sustenance, and companionship. Naturally, for a business that is as focussed on today and tomorrow as it is on its past the design must avoid overwrought cliché, so these concepts are interpreted and rendered into a sophisticated and contemporary vocabulary.
Design: SDI Interior Design
Photography: Steve Tsai
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