Design Diary

A personal review of design creations.

Saint George Hotel: Toronto’s untold story


In the heart of Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood, the Saint George Hotel mixes local heritage with a tasteful contemporary flavour.

The interior design of the Saint George Hotel communicates a narrative of local pride, diverse heritage and contemporary culture to create a hotel experience that celebrates Toronto’s layered history and sensibilities. The 14-story hotel integrates elements of Toronto’s culture and personality, giving guests a distinct sense of place. The experience of being a guest in their own well-appointed apartment. With 188 guest rooms and suites, a fitness centre, meeting and event space, the property provides unique guest accommodations within a neighbourhood setting.


Guests initial experience with the hotel comes via an exterior black wood awning at the main entry, giving the hotel street presence and welcoming guests for their stay. The lighting is a subtle nod to the iconic marquee signs that once occupied the neighbourhood.

The most visually striking element on the exterior is the 10-storey high hand-painted mural on the west-facing facade of the building. Mason Studio commissioned well-known street artist BirdO to create a surreal geometric bird that continues the narrative of the interior experience to the exterior.

Upon entry, the reception area features a marble desk framed with wooden arches, back dropped by a hand painted mural of a misty Toronto-inspired scene. Adjacent to reception is a guest lounge, designed to feel like a living room. The space is a collection of bespoke furniture, artwork, lighting and objects, many crafted by local makers that continue to tell the story of local culture and design.  


Arches are used throughout the hotel as a physical indicator of moving from one experience to another. They visually guide guests throughout the space while paying homage to Toronto’s diverse architectural style and eras.


A 40-sqm lounge situated on the main floor, just outside the meeting room is realised in darker, more saturated tones to convey a feeling of intimacy. A custom bar and beverage area offer the opportunity for guests to relax before entering the meeting room.


On the guestroom levels, a collection of original, small vintage black-and-white photographs from a couple’s vacation to Toronto appear at each guest entry. These images tell an intimate story of early post-war vacationers discovering the city.

The suites are a continuation of the nostalgic nod to the layered heritage of the neighbourhood. The rooms are designed with a residential approach by housing a collection of art and custom designed furniture and lighting that is seemingly collected over time.

Every element in the suites is carefully designed to provide guests with an experience parallel to a well-appointed apartment in the neighbourhood, offering guests with an alternative to more traditional hotel accommodations.


Photography: Naomi Finlay

Middle Eastern Salone 2019: The Ramel Collection revisits An Arabian Hospitality Tradition

Coffee and dates are the base of Arabian hospitality. They are offered to honour the guest as a symbol of peace. The Foundry by Tinkah works around the desert sand for a collection of contemporary coffee cups.

Ramel is the Arabic word for sand. In the United Arab Emirates, the ever shifting dunes have inspired The Foundry by Tinkah to develop a material that tames the characteristics of desert sand into a moldable medium. “Ramel” has the ability to shift shape into functional and aesthetic products that emerge from their environment rather than adopting their surrounding. As homage to a global culture, The Foundry has designed and produced the humble coffee cup using sand.


The Foundry is an inventive creative space set up by Tinkah*. With experimental exploration at its core, The Foundry allows Tinkah’s artists, designers, writers, creatives the dedicated environment to defy the monotony of commercial design. Organically emerging from Dubai, the creative practice draws inspiration from its immediate environment. For this particular design they looked at the most abundant and unused natural resource in the UAE, they set out with the aim to utilise sand into a reproducible product. 

With focus on a scalable manufacturing process, they proceeded to create a composite material the combines the visual, tactile and heat insulative properties of sand with the castability of slip ceramic. Plan in hand, they loaded up the pickup and set out into the UAE desert to collect different colored sand samples.

This endeavour quickly morphed into a material science challenge with trial and error driving every decision. Iron, calcium, silica, aluminum and magnesium are just a few of the elements found in desert sand, each sample varied in composition. With the process of elimination and continued experimentation they were able to achieve promising results. Following multiple casting attempts, it was instantly apparent that traditional slip casting techniques, mixtures and firing temperatures have to be re-explored and adjusted. 

With months worth of R&D behind them, The Foundry moved along to design the first product that will bare the newly developed material. A transglobal culture, coffee and coffee drinkware was the way forward. The studio reimagined the traditional bedouin coffee cup into one that feels right at home serving espresso in Milan or Arabic coffee in Cairo.


*In Arabic, Tinkah translates to “tin container”. In specific, one that is used by bedouins to protect their most prized possessions. Building on this story, our practice leads the creation of objects and experiences that resonate with our collective cultural memory. Beyond function, bedouin Coffee culture was a strong driving force in guiding the cup’s form factor. Traditionally, a guest and host might perform subtle cues with the drinkware to nonverbally communicate. To honour a guest, the host presents the cup scooped up from the bottom with their fingers, the conical shape of the cup allows that to be done with ease.  Once the guest is done drinking, the guest lightly wiggles the cup while holding it from the rim to convey that they have had enough. Left untextured, the clear rim acts as a visual indication to this unique tradition. Although absent from bedouin cup design, the addition of a handle prevents the cup from falling over as well as a reaching hand to contemporary coffee drinking convention.

The Ramel Collection is part of Meet My Project located at Next Agency, via Varese 18, Brera, Milan. Open from April 9th until 13th.

Luxury in a raw and untouched environment

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New Zealand is the ideal destination for wild, beautiful and striking landscapes. Few weeks ago, a brand new resort has opened its door with a low profile and unique architectural design…

Surrounded by over 6,000 acres of mountains and valleys and nestled between three conservation parks, The Lindis is located on a moraine wall formed but the retreating glacier and overlooks the Ahuriri river and its Valley in North Otago on New Zealand’s South Island. 

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It is undoubtedly the country’s newest luxury lodge bringing contemporary architecture and design to the untouched environment including snow-capped mountains, wetlands, tussock grasslands and beech forests. 


The main building houses five eclectically designed suites – each named after a neighbouring station – and is characterised by top-shelf finishes and modern and sculptural detail. Its sweeping, wooden roof ensures the solitary man-made structure appears an organic, seamless addition to the natural landscape, while a huge expanse of glass along the front of the building provides guests with a looking glass to the spectacular panoramic views of the river – one of the top ten fly fishing locations in the world – and mountains beyond.

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Outside the main building, guests can expect merino sheep and Angus bulls roaming freely, and endless opportunities to explore the valley on foot, bike or horse, with mountain climbing, mountain biking and horseback riding also on offer at the lodge. Guests can also venture their chance at one of the world’s top 10 fly fishing spots nestled closely to the building. 

Next year, a further three suites will open as part of an extension of the lodge, as well as individual glass pods specially designed for star-gazing.

Rates for a Lodge Suite at The Lindis start at NZD $2,000 per night.