Over the last couple of years, Azure has made some big moves. We’ve settled into a shiny new workspace, introduced redesigns of both Azure (in 2018) and Designlines (out today!) and – also this June – launched a brand new azuremagazine.com. With the last of these monumental ventures finally unveiled, we thought it was time to share some images of Azure’s new office, designed by Toronto architect Heather Dubbeldam.
Our new digs, in the up-and-coming Junction Triangle, have us immersed in inspiration: the office overlooks Toronto’s recently-opened Museum of Contemporary Art, we share a parking lot with a number of artisans including woodworkers Heidi Earnshaw and the Brothers Dressler, and our new building is also home to the offices of local architects RDHA and Philip Beesley.
“The raw space was amazing – just really inspiring,” says Dubbeldam, describing her first visit to the old transformer factory we’re now located in. “The exposed brick, the sloping wood ceilings and the red accents of the sprinkler system – we didn’t want to take away from any of that, so we approached it with a light touch.”
Along with these hints of the building’s industrial past, one of the defining characteristics of our main workspace is the ample daylight. With generous fenestrations lining both the south and east-facing walls, the room is flooded with natural light year round. Taking advantage of the sun was key to Dubbeldam’s space-planning. Four rows of white Teknion workstations – from the Upstage and Interpret systems – are organized to maximize the staff’s access to light. A meeting room and private office are installed against the inner wall, behind translucent ridged acrylic panels from Evonik.
On the opposite side of Azure’s new office, our soaring events space features even more impressive glazing, with the building’s original steel-framed windows rising to the double-height ceiling. Though the windows erase any need for artifiicial illumination during the day, a trio of Lightnet’s hoop-shaped Ringo Star-G1 pendants (sourced through our friends at Lightform) are ready to brighten things up for evening events. They’re paired with massive Haiku fans from Big Ass Fans to keep things cool even on the sunniest summer days.
The “big room” is an airy space where the entire office can comfortably gather, for meetings, to review cover options for both Azure and Designlines, or to prep for events like our AZ Awards gala. Not to mention the occasional game of ping-pong and a weekly yoga class. It’s also an area where we welcome the design community into our space, for presentations of all sorts, from lectures to cocktail parties. Earlier this year we hosted the AZ Awards jury in this room – outfitted with an 82-inch 4K Ultra HD TV, making it an ideal venue for screenings as well.
Adjoining this flexible space, we have a full kitchen. For our kitchen system, Horia Gruia at Scavolini Toronto proposed Food Shelf, designed by Ora Ito. With cabinets in a cool grey accented with pops of marigold yellow, the kitchen provides a welcoming lunchtime spot for staff. Suspended over the dining area is a row of black ceramic pendants from Metalarte’s Copacabana line designed by Jaime Hayon.
These lights reappear directly above, in the mezzanine level meeting room, which is also enclosed by acrylic Evonik panels. The translucent material is repeated below on the sliding door that closes off the kitchen to accommodate meetings, or catering during events. The panels also are used to shape two private offices that sit between the big room and reception.
Bridging the two sides of the office, our reception area announces Azure from a significant distance, visible from the opposite end of the building’s long hallway. The desk is clad in a live sawn European oak panel from Moncer. To top the built-in piece, we turned to Lars and Jason Dressler, who crafted a curvaceous blackened-oak top with rounded ends and soft indentations carved into its surface.
Above this bespoke feature, a cluster of Cloud Softlight pendants from Vancouver design brand Molo hovers above the desk, “like an assembly of cumulus clouds,” says Dubbeldam. The honeycomb-structured paper fixtures date back to the inaugural 2011 AZ Awards, when they were displayed as part of an exhibition of the winners.
Further references to the AZ Awards of years past can be found in the reception area: the Ply Shelves, designed by Matter Design and manufactured by C. W. Keller, were also a winner in the competition’s first year, and are now used to display AZ Awards trophies of years past.
A logo formed from layers of perforated yellow pegboard, designed by Lukas Peet, sits atop a row of Index shelving units from Vancouver brand Bensen. The bookcases previously lined the walls of our Richmond Street boardroom, and as we refilled them in the new space, we made sure to leave a bit of room for the library to expand – much as the new office will allow Azure to grow in the future.
Azure’s new office, designed by Toronto architect Heather Dubbeldam, is a bright and airy space that offers ample creative inspiration.