Working ‘till dawn

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Crumbled papers, energy drinks and sweats. Brian Boudreau, Christina Dun, and Nicole Witkowski report on the students who go bump in the night

Going without sleep isn’t uncommon for Mandala Mitton or Craig Eden. Both second-year architecture students say they have had to stay up for the extent of two days to finish all the projects they had on their plate.

“And that’s working like 20 out of the 24 hours of that day,” said Eden.

For some students at Ryerson this is something that comes with each and every project. Students are constantly battling with having to be creative on demand as our previously technical programs become increasingly more conceptual.

Interior design students don’t have it any easier. From the first weeks of school the program demands both passion and dedication from their students.

“It’s been really stressful,” said Erika Van Der Pas, first-year interior design student, “I feel like they’ve been trying to weed out the bad guys.”

The programs are designed as models of how the professional fields of architecture and interior design work. The practicality of both areas of study gives students what they need to be competitive after graduation.

Masha Etkind, a professor in the School of Architectural Science describes the programs focus when he said, “[The program] turned from technical and engineering to conceptual and creative.”

“It won’t make them better designers if you make [the program] easier,” said Annick Mitchell, Chair of Interior Design here at Ryerson about interior design.

Students agree the dedication is necessary to gain the necessary skills involved in these practical professions.

“It’s a love-hate relationship. It’s fun work, but there’s way too much,” said second-year student James Saunders about the architecture workload.

Mariya Haponenko, a second-year interior design student says with so much work each week it becomes a struggle to do your best.

“To be creative you need time to get inspired but with these deadlines it’s hard to. Projects turn out to be mediocre,” she said.

And with so many assignments being signed out, students must master the art of time management.

“I don’t really have much time for myself, or to go shopping or to party or anything but school,” said Schembri.

Stephanie Wiebe, second-year interior design student, knows the toll that the program takes on students’ lives.

“Your social life changes completely. Your classmates become your family,” said Wiebe.

With deadline fast approaching on these assignments, students go to whatever extent they need to in order to assure they get the work done.

“The longest time I’ve gone without sleeping is probably close to 40 hours. I’ve heard of people who have done more. That happened in first year, like when you’re trying to figure out how to manage your time more efficiently,” says fourth-year architecture student Shiloh Lazar.

Haponenko, recalls having to look out for her health when skipping sleep.

“I’ve come close to passing out. People get shakes when they stay up all night, and you can get sick if you keep pulling all-nighters.”

Though students are pressured by deadlines, Etkind said the profession could not exist without them.

“Without deadlines you could spend your whole life on a project.”

Azure Magazine named Ryerson’s School of Interior Design in the top three schools of its kind worldwide and the School of Architectural Science is renowned amongst the best in the country, but Mitchell thinks this only motivates the students to be stronger.

“We expect them to be leaders, so they have to act like leaders. That striving for excellence can be challenging,” she said.

Coping methods vary among students but Lazar says balance is key.

“Every week I find time to do some intramural sports or something like that. And in as much time you spend in studio, you really have to get outside studio, get outside of architecture because life is about balance,” said Lazar.

Haponenko describes having to push through it to reach an end result you’re happy with.

“To deal you have to put in the extra effort. Time, dedication and research is the only way to cope,” said Haponenko.

The work these students produce shows that no amount of pressure can overshadow their talent.

“I’ve been east to west,” Wiebe said, “Everyone is sympathetic to interior designers. This is definitely what I want to do, though.”

— With files from Rebecca Burton

Photo: Marta Iwanek

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