Cadillac Fairview Opens Design Incubator with DESIGNwith and OCAD University

Cadillac Fairview (CF) has partnered with DESIGNwith and OCAD University to launch a new design incubator in Toronto.

The DESIGNwith studio at CF Toronto Eaton Centre will bring together a range of designers, students, and community members, and serve as a dedicated learning lab to explore the circular economy for creating lasting, social good.

Photo credit: Katya Koroscil

“We’re proud to open the DESIGNwith studio alongside our passionate partners, showcasing the powerful social impact we can achieve together,” said Jason Anderson, Senior Vice President, Brand & Marketing, Cadillac Fairview. “This is a first-of-its kind experience for Cadillac Fairview and as long-standing city builders, we’re excited that one of our largest retail properties in the world can purposely serve our community as the common ground for thoughtful design, research and knowledge sharing.”

Located on Level 2 (between the Dundas Street station entrance and Canadian Tire), the studio will function daily as an incubator space for OCAD University students, a student resident, designers and community members.

Throughout the year, DESIGNwith will open to the public for ticketed events, starting with a sneaker-making workshop, a circular design student exhibition and natural-dyeing classes.

Delivered by design Workshop Architects, the 635-square-foot studio was built with 40 per cent repurposed materials from other CF locations and previously used store fixtures, including the front doors and windows as well as the track lighting inside.

Photo credit: Katya Koroscil

“We’re thrilled to extend our collaboration with Cadillac Fairview following the success of last year’s CF Art Corridor Project on Yonge Street, located above CF Toronto Eaton Centre, which made public art more accessible to the community,” said Ana Serrano, OCAD University’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “With this new initiative, we’re excited to create a place where the public can learn more about the impact design has on everyday items through hands-on learning and workshops.”

Among the makers and designers who are part of the DESIGNwith studio are Katya Koroscil, DESIGNwith intern, and Ernesto Ramirez, a furniture design intern from Durango, Mexico; both students are in their third year of industrial design at OCAD University. Both students co-designed a furniture collection for use in the incubator space with Industrial Design Professor Ranee Lee and Lee Fletcher, the founding partner at Fig40 and principal at Fletcher Scott Studio. The studio furniture pieces are designed with sustainability, flexibility and affordance in mind, and are made with easy-to-use dimensional lumber and readily available fasteners. This achieves the goal of sharing designs that are producible for anyone, by anyone.

Photo credit: Katya Koroscil

“As an OCAD University instructor, it’s always a delight to see my students get out into the community and do work for the social good,” said Ranee Lee, founder of DESIGNwith. “The DESIGNwith studio is also an opportunity to level the playing field for learning and design, which are often inaccessible for many within our own city. We’re grateful to Cadillac Fairview for opening up this significant community space to us, as it is truly only by approaching community differently that we can expect to achieve different results.”

Also joining the space is DESIGNwith’s student resident, Deanna Badi–an industrial designer with a focus on environmental sustainability. Badi is working on grant-funded research to produce a biodegradable, water-repellent solution for natural fibre outerwear jackets she designs and sews herself.

Photo credit: Katya Koroscil

One of the first workshops to be hosted at the DESIGNwith studio will be led by footwear designer Nelson Silva, who has more than 20 years of professional experience in the field and focuses on sustainability and innovation in footwear. His five-week sneaker workshop will use upcycled fabrics for shoe-making, as part of DESIGNwith’s goal of democratizing design and knowledge through teaching and making. These workshops are open to the public, but half of the seats will be offered to marginalized community members and students ensuring equity and inclusion.