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A Sharp Balance

A redesign of Four Seasons Hotel Toronto has invigorated the lobby and d|bar, successfully striking a balance between elegant formality and approachable comfort to make guests feel special and welcomed.


Homage to the founder

Building off the lobby and bar’s original design by DIALOG Principal Alison McNeil while at her previous firm, McNeil’s new design pays homage to Four Seasons founder Isadore Sharp with an updated take on a 1960s modernist aesthetic. The tribute is most apparent in “Sharp’s Corner”, a tucked away nook beneath the lobby stairs that is adorned with images of Mr. Sharp’s early career. The space affords guests a relaxed and private space for conversation and is one of the best places in Toronto to close a deal. “You can’t tell the story of Four Seasons Hotel Toronto without telling the story of Mr. Sharp himself”, says McNeil, adding “This hotel has a heart behind it – a person who deeply believes in this city and the Four Seasons’ brand.”

A clear progression

The redesign follows a symmetrical plan, with a logical progression from reception, to lobby, to lounge and into the bar. This clear path, defined by a pull back of the carpeted flooring, addresses a challenge in the previous lobby where guests were cutting through the space, interrupting quiet conversation zones. This new design creates clearly defined zones for privacy and socialization. Guests’ technology needs are anticipated and addressed by discretely incorporating charging stations in custom designed millwork and the centre of the new space is defined by a large hanging sculpture by ceramic artist Alissa Coe.

New directions

Another protagonist in the evolving story of the Four Seasons Hotel’s flagship location is its new owner Shahid Khan, whose preference for subtle use of colour has inspired a new colour scheme in blush, olive, natural grey and brass. The palette is carried through the space’s custom-made furniture and fixtures, some of which have been crafted locally in Ontario. Olive furniture positioned at the bar’s core contrasts with blush glass between the alcoves and custom light fixtures mimic fluttering dragonflies. These refined and whimsical elements convey a sense of comfort within this elegant space.

Mixing business and pleasure

The owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham F.C, Mr. Khan has an acute interest in the entertainment industry. The new d|bar is designed with guest enjoyment first and foremost. A large art installation behind the bar doubles as screens to air sporting events – an essential element in sports mad Toronto. Most of time, the supersized screen displays visuals by Moss & Lam and can be programmed to feature commissioned pieces from local artists. One of the most popular bars in Toronto, d|bar’s new design adds thirty percent more seating, offering guests the ability to sit alone at a table, shimmy up to the bar or relax on a banquette. Customers can make the choice to be as private as they want or socialize with ease.

Project facts

Client: Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto
Services: Interior Design
Size: 337 sq m / 3630 sq ft
Completion: 2018
Collaborators: Custom Furniture - Artco, Custom Carpet - Creative Matters Inc., Custom Furniture - Louis Interiors, Digital Art - Moss & Lam
Photography: Evan Dion