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Get to Know: Unison Group

Unison Group

Sabine Grimes shares the journey and process of forging the Toronto-based design firm through the lens of fine art, human connection and reflection.

By Kaitlin Secord
Photography by Gillian Jackson

Unison Group was developed out of a necessity to create interiors that have a greater appreciation of architecture, art and dynamic form. Founder and principal, Sabine Grimes, formed the heart of the design firm around centering interior design and development as valuable assets, drawing on experience and sensibilities from her formative years working with award-winning architecture firms such as Yabu Pushelberg, KPMB Architects and Burdifilek.

These principals have led Unison Group to flourish into a collective that celebrates interior architecture and design through the lens of fine art, human connection and reflection.

Designlines spoke with Grimes about the firm’s successes, aspirations and motivations.

Unison Group
Founder and principal, Sabine Grimes

How did Unison Group get its start?

Drawing from my extensive experience of collaborating with various designers, architects, development, and hotel groups, I identified a key value proposition: the ability for interior designers to imbue projects with empathetic insights into architecture and understand how its intricate elements resonate with people. As interior architects and designers, we translate this understanding into visually captivating and functionally impeccable spaces. While some may perceive interior architecture as sterile, I believe it doesn’t mandate delivering cookie-cutter projects lacking in vibrancy. Instead, by emphasizing the finesse and sensitivity that we can bring to interior architecture, we can elevate the nuanced elements of design.

Unison Group
Mont Vert. Photo by Gillian Jackson

What are some of the markers of a Unison Group Design?

Typically, across all our projects—be they multifamily or single-family residential, or within the hospitality sector—we strive to uncover intriguing elements. Our forte lies in defining the interior architecture of these projects. We consistently push boundaries and confidently explore novel elements that haven’t been ventured into before. In all our built endeavors, we challenge conventional norms, seeking innovative solutions to interior architectural dilemmas. Our mission is to reclaim ownership of the spaces we inhabit, making them conduits for simplicity and ease in our lives. This shift in perspective is pivotal, as it affords us the opportunity to prioritize what truly matters, creating space for the things that hold genuine significance in our lives.

89 Avenue, Yorkville
89 Avenue, Yorkville by Unison Group

How do you approach the ideation process for the spaces you craft?

I believe that good design invariably begins with a thorough comprehension of the opportunity at hand and for an appreciation of our clients. Before putting pen to paper, it’s imperative for us to grasp the full extent of the design intent and the overarching goals driving the project. This approach distinguishes between superficial design solutions and more holistic approaches that have the potential to transcend limited trajectories.

To ensure our work remains forward-thinking and innovative, we study past projects and draw inspiration from diverse sources. Understanding how these spaces were conceptualized and how they function in reality, we gain insights that inform our design process. Whether we’re working on single-family dwellings or cottages, we delve into the underlying motivations driving the project.

As a firm that works internationally, can you share your approach to interior design and architecture as it pertains to Toronto?

Each location where we practice, whether it’s Atlanta, California, Vancouver, Miami, or the Middle East, presents unique challenges and opportunities. Understanding the cultural and geographic nuances and appreciating the reasons behind these are crucial for ensuring that our designs resonate with the local market.

Speaking about Toronto, it’s particularly exciting to infuse our projects with the richness of our diverse cultural landscape. However, it’s essential to recognize that the design ethos in Toronto often caters to a more conservative audience compared to the bold and avant-garde designs seen in places like Miami or the Middle East. This necessitates a different approach, one that balances innovation with a respect for tradition and understated elegance.

Unison Group
Custom Light Fixture by UNISON. Photography by Alex Lukey.

What do you see for the future of Unison Group?

Looking ahead to the future of Unison Group, I firmly believe that our commitment to excellence will remain unwavering. As we continue to evolve and establish ourselves further, we eagerly anticipate embracing new challenges that come our way. Across the various regions of the world where we operate and conduct business, I envision a growing appreciation for the skill and talent that surrounds us. This will propel us to become more forward-thinking and adept at delivering innovative solutions in the realm of architecture and design.

We find ourselves increasingly involved in ambitious projects with discerning clients who aspire to achieve remarkable heights. It’s gratifying to note that much of our work is imbued with a human-centric ethos. I like to think that every project we undertake celebrates the essence of humanity, transcending barriers of race, gender, and religion. Ideally, our work serves as a testament to the best within us, inspiring individuals to strive for greatness and fostering a sense of unity and inclusivity.


Categories: Profiles

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