UrbanToronto recently had the opportunity to sit down with Diego Burdi of Toronto's internationally renowned interior design duo Burdifilek to learn about the company's design process, and to talk about some intriguing past and current Burdifilek projects.

Diego Burdi, image by Jack Landau

There are several steps in the design process when Burdifilek takes on a new project, and the process varies depending upon the project. The question is asked; how can something unique be created for Burdifilek clients from a global point of view?

Diego, along with partner Paul Filek, look at what truly matters to that project from a design point of view. They study the canvas of the space; where it is situated, what country it is in, and what the purpose of the space will be. From there they create a hypothetical story to figure out how the end user will be using the space. 

According to Diego, "Design is not one dimensional, it is multifaceted. It’s not about pulling in too many elements. It’s more about editing the right amount of ingredients to make the project work in a successful way". That comes with time, and that’s what Burdifilek does quite well.

While designing the interior spaces for Yonge + Rich, a project recently launched by Great Gulf, Burdifilek looked at the demographic of the expected buyer to help create the theme of the building. The demographic here is young, urban, professional, and well heeled, with their finger on the pulse of what is new and exciting. Burdifilek wanted to create a space that is highly designed: modern, but decidedly not trendy. "It is all about creating a space that feels airy yet intimate, the second you walk into the building."


Yonge + Rich Lobby, image courtesy of Great Gulf

The building is situated on Lombard, a short, beautiful, and quiet residential street in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the city. Yonge + Rich will feature two amenity floors with two outdoor terraces. The outdoor/indoor interaction of the spaces is designed to make them very inviting. Burdifilek hopes you won’t want to leave the building! Whether it’s relaxing in the bar/lounge with a glass of wine, or sitting by the pool, the point is that the amenity space is your personal oasis. 

Yonge + Rich Bar/Lounge, image courtesy of Great Gulf

Yonge + Rich Pool, image courtesy of Great Gulf

While the concept of a oasis will be appealing to permanent residents of a condominium, the theme is no less appealing when traveling. One very exciting project that Burdifilek designed was the W Atlanta Downtown Hotel, where the theme similarly was urban oasis. Diego recalls that when you fly into Atlanta, "It’s green, like a forest, lush with flowers everywhere, and beautiful vegetation."

Burdifilek brought that experience of flying into Atlanta into the W Hotel itself: in every W Hotel you will find a space called the Living Room. This room is supposed to reflect and feel like the city you are staying in. The Living Room at the W Atlanta was designed to feel as if you’re underneath a tree canopy. Toronto artist Dennis Lin collectively designed the installation of 20,000 polished aluminum pieces shaped like beautiful abstract leaves to feel as if you're walking through an enchanted garden.

W Hotel Atlanta, Living Room, image courtesy of Burdifilek

Another Toronto condo project Burdifilek is working on is the Exhibit Residences in Yorkville. The project by Bazis, Metropia, and Plaza, sits on Bloor Street across from the ROM. While designing for Exhibit, the idea was sophistication, something which could sit comfortably on a global stage in any major city in the world. The expected resident is well travelled, cultured, and understands the art and design world. They want to walk into a space that truly feels metropolitan. Finishes were investigated by collaborating with artisans to create a ne plus ultra feel through a combination of rare finishes, furniture, even landscape design. A result: the Exhibit lobby features brushed bronze walls, custom made furniture pieces, and a one-of-a-kind glass sculpture from the Jeff Goodman Studio in Toronto.

Exhibit Condos Lobby, image courtesy of Burdifilek

Another high-profile project that Burdifilek has worked on is the Joe Fresh flagship store in New York City. Situated in an iconic building designed by SOM architects in the 1950s, where once there was a branch of The Manufacturers Hanover Bank, now sits Joe Fresh’s New York flagship.

Joe Fresh New York City Flagship Store, image courtesy of Burdifilek

Designing within a heritage building in New York City had its challenges. The many restrictions placed on them by the New York Historical Board created a design language that probably would not have happened otherwise. The restrictions, which included not being able to alter the ceiling nor the floor, ended up creating practical and innovative solutions for the retail space.

While designing the retail space, it was very important for Burdifilek to fully respect and applaud the architecture, but it was also important to integrate and make sure that art was still focal in the space. The finished interior looks primarily like an art installation, while still working primarily as a retail space. 

Joe Fresh New York City Flagship Store, image courtesy of Burdifilek

After dark, SOM's glass box lights up and you can see through Burdifilek's enticing Joe Fresh store.  

Joe Fresh New York City Flagship Store, image courtesy of Burdifilek

One of Diego’s favourite parts of the design process is the first time experience of walking into the space raw to see what they get to play with. "We love a blank canvas - the possibilities are endless." We look forward to seeing what exciting spaces Burdifilek comes up with next!

Related Companies:  architects—Alliance, Baker Real Estate Incorporated, Graziani + Corazza Architects, Great Gulf, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., McIntosh Perry, Metropia, NAK Design Group, Peter McCann Architectural Models Inc., Plaza, Quest Window Systems, Ryan Design International, TUCKER HIRISE Construction