September 1st, 2015 was a piping hot late summer day. I met Lisa Ho of Lisa Ho Studio on the patio at Bar Buca on Portland St. to cool down over some sparking lemonade and to chat about her design philosophy, background, and inspiration for some of the hottest venues she’s designed across Toronto.
A former project lead interior designer at Yabu Pushelberg in Toronto, Lisa has over 10+ years in the interior design industry and has worked with a number of teams spread internationally on luxury hotel design projects. With all of that knowledge and experience, Lisa decided that it was time for her to start her own business under her creative direction and focus. Thus, Lisa Ho Studio was born.
Her signature style of juxtaposing the indoors/outdoors can be found across design elements from her wide range of past and current projects, designing some of the most notable commercial spaces in Toronto: The Addison’s Residence, EFS, OMAW, to name a few. Lisa notes that there is an absence of greenery in downtown Toronto and likes to take cues from the outdoors and urban city landscape to incorporate into her designs.
“Residential focus is a huge part of my design philosophy.” Lisa states, when asked about the challenges of designing for a customer experience. “It’s important to me that I create moments within a space that engage people to be social and also bring them together. My background designing for hotels provided me ample context for designing space with an intention for those in it to feel at home, and I take that into consideration every time I work on a commercial project.”
When designing the interior for the Addison’s Residence, a 1970’s Hollywood-hills home-style lounge/bar located on Wellington St. just off of King West, Lisa united a mid-century, chic yet relaxed, balmy, and warm environment, styled and laid-out like a typical family home. Playing off the theme that, “the Addison’s always throw the best parties, and the key is always under the mat”, the space uses Edison bulbs, large statement furniture, low and comfortable seating, antique and new party games, palm print wallpaper, and faux-family photos on the wall to convey a mischievous, yet welcoming sense that “when the parents are away, the kids will play”, home-sweet-home vibe for guests. At the opening of the venue, the best moment for Lisa was seeing the public interact in the space – patron comfort and ease was a huge compliment and the games were an even bigger hit.
The success of the venues she designs is reflective of the natural talent and eye Lisa has for interior design. Tight budgets and timelines don’t faze her as her ability capture the overall vision for a space, source the perfect furnishings + vendors, and deliver a jaw dropping and unique final product is what makes her the absolute professional she is.
When it comes to the interior design industry, especially in Toronto, Lisa has virtually no complaints. She did note that when it comes to trends, overuse can lead to too much of a good thing and is a general practice she tends to keep a steady distance from. In a city that sees new food and entertainment venues crop up weekly, competition is certainly fierce with many a trendy spot deemed hot one minute and not the next. We’re not worried – Lisa’s designs have staying power, and let’s be honest, I think all of us Torontonians enjoy and relish settings where we’re able to feel surrounded by a little bit of the outdoors, indoors.
Check out more about Lisa Ho Studio and her work at www.lisahostudio.com.
By Kristin Reed