Creating Spaces for People

Toronto-based Straticom offers innovative interior design solutions for major corporations, institutions, government and non-profit organizations across North America. The award-winning company is known for its superior commercial design, culture-focused methodology and business approach that help articulate brands and transform corporate cultures into inviting, livable spaces.

Straticom’s approach for the past two decades allows it to consider every step in the design process and provide clients with a cohesive approach. Its diverse capabilities and combined years of experience allow it to clearly understand the unique demands of each client and the business sectors in which they operate.

The Canadian Business Journal spoke with principles Julie Phillips and Abel Branco about the company’s design approach, recent projects and future plans.

Unique Design Company

Straticom is a unique design company as both designers and business professionals run the company. As a company Straticom is continually improving how they run their operations including managing their projects, their pipeline and their resources to exceed client’s expectations. “We have a business focus, because that’s who we work with – businesses,” Phillips says. “But we always keep to our core strength and main intent, which is expertise in design.”
Straticom is a firm believer in treating clients with personal attention and care when going through the process of designing a workplace. The company creates unique solutions for each client and ensures every detail is considered for every project.

“Time and again, what our clients say they appreciate most about working with us is the cultural-focus methodology and the collaborative approach,” says Branco. “We don’t go in and sell a principal that isn’t going to be part of a project. We sell the entire project team.”

In fact, this collaborative approach is what ensures that clients get the design that best suits their brand or corporate culture. “It’s a tool to help the client make the right decision before committing to any decision in the early stages. We have a very robust process to help clients make real estate decisions that will meet their current needs and plan forward for the next five to 10 years,” Branco says.

Straticom’s key to success is teamwork. “We sit around a table and everybody’s got an equal voice. As a result we come to better solutions. Everybody has a say … The whole is worth more than the sum of the parts,” Phillips says.
“We have a great culture here. We have a lot of people who have been here a long time. Some have left, they started here, and go to try other firms, expand to other horizons. And they come back, just because of our culture,” Branco says.

Exciting, Award-Winning Projects

Since its inception, Straticom has designed over 15 million square feet of workspace for more than 600 clients, including many of the Globe and Mail’s top 100. The company carefully manages the entire process from the original idea through to implementing the project and it prides itself in completing projects on-time and on-budget.

Straticom deals with two major areas of design. The first is corporate interior design that focuses on traditional office tower design, as well as specialty work (i.e., converting warehouses and factories into office space) and its solutions group (i.e., fast and cost-effective design responses for small projects). Second is the company’s healthcare practice. It has experience designing clinics, labs, doctors and dentists’ office, retirement living, and hospices and addiction centres.

Exciting projects keep the designers fresh and thinking outside the box. “It’s the non-traditional office tower work that’s been very interesting,” Branco says. “I think those non-conventional types of projects, those conversions of factories, warehouses or brick and beam buildings, they’re very challenging to work with. However, making a traditional tower unique is also a fun challenge for our team!”

Most interesting projects of late. “That is a tough question,” says Branco. “Every client has their unique challenges that make a project interesting. We are currently working with Acklands Grainger who is creating a bold new corporate image and moving from a 1980s industrial building to three floors of an office tower. For CN Rail, we converted an old warehouse they owned into two floors of office space with an open atrium and art installation in the middle corridor. Construction is just about to start on ARI Financial who are moving from conventional structure with outside offices to a LEED office, and significant cultural shift and giving back to staff (new standardization, offices on the core, more collaborative areas, access to light).”

“However, we have just as much fun, and as big a challenge, working with some much smaller firms. We do a ton of work with vibrant young firms across all sectors – technology, private equity, asset management, professional service, marketing and advertising, etc. It is all about finding clients who value our collaborative, open and transparent approach and real desire to know them and their unique challenges,” says Phillips.

Straticom recently designed an office in a tower for Workplace One King West. As a workspace for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, Workplace One was looking for a design that would go “beyond just a building with offices inside.” In designing the space, Straticom took down some of the traditional tower to open it up, create more space, and make the design more like a loft. An Office Snapshot article described the design as “an interactive interior full of colours, the design team crafted a space to delight that would speak to a younger generation through bold graphics and fun, personable on-trend features.”

For a CI Financial project, Straticom designed a 10,000 square foot rooftop lounge for the CI Financial staff. This space allowed the wealth management firm to do most of its own corporate entertaining, which resulted in a “significant cost savings for the organization,” Phillips says.

Getting Bigger

With studios in Toronto and Ottawa, Straticom is continuing to grow its practice with corporate, government, healthcare and not-for-profit clients across North America.

Straticom is looking to expand its design team but acquiring the right talent to fit the company culture is both challenging and critical to their success. So the company is focusing on growth but not at the expense of its business culture. As well, Straticom is currently developing projects in Vancouver and Calgary and is looking to acquire a partner in the west to solidify its base there.

“Staying focused on what we’re really good at: interior design for commercial and healthcare. And making sure that we have a good mix of projects in both areas. Our designers stay inspired by maintaining variety in the work. We need the right mix of large corporate clients and smaller entrepreneurial companies. A variety of building types, traditional tower, warehouse conversion, brick and beam. We like solving a challenge with our clients. It keeps the team engaged and interested,” Phillips says.