Students tried out potential new furniture for Ryerson's Student Learning Centre at the lower gym in Kerr Hall West. Photo: Sadie McInnes

Speaking up about sitting down

In Communities /

By: Sadie McInnes, Rina Tse and Alfea Donato

Students and staff rarely consider what they put under their butts, and the Ryerson Design Team is attempting to change that.

From April 10 to 12, Ryerson will have a chance to test out furniture at the lower gym in KHW-73. The SLC: Design our Digs competition features several chairs, desks, tables and lounge seats for students to try and choose for  Ryerson’s new Student Learning Centre. 

Upon entering, two design coordinators at the front desk hand visitors an instruction sheet, with a small map of the gym divided into seven sections. Visitors venture into the sections and recline, rating the furniture on a scorecard which judges the seats based on design, comfort, functionality and accessibility, with the option to comment. After completing a section’s scorecard, they receive a blue dot on their map’s corresponding section. Finishing the map and handing it into the front desk gives students a chance to win prizes donated from the manufacturers themselves, including pieces that are present at the event.

The process may seem trivial to some, but visiting students found themselves admiring certain designs.  Second-year occupational health and safety student Abriame Siuaskandarajah said the NUBE casual study chair, was “relaxing, ergonomic, and hits my back well.”

“These are step up from what we have,” added fourth-year psychology student Martin Ene, who will be taking part in a video featuring students interacting with the displayed furniture. The purpose of such a video, according to Ene, is to “raise awareness to the fact that we have a cornucopia of chairs we could potentially use.”

Although the furniture received numerous positive reviews, some students remain skeptical of the quality of some of the chairs.

“I personally think it looks like crap,” said third-year psychology student Ron On. “Most of the materials looks flimsy.”

Furniture is not a cutthroat industry, and the event was full of banter between sales personnel comparing products, companies, and histories. “It doesn’t feel really competitive… I’ve made friends with some of the sales personnel,” said Georgia Brooks-Hancock, a sales representative from the seventh section.

Among the hundreds of products, some are more renowned than others. Vinnie Krieger, an A+D representative for Herman Miller Canada, Inc., was more than happy to share back-stories for individual items. Gesturing at a plywood chair, she told us that the seemingly unremarkable piece of furniture was named chair of the century by Time Magazine.

“Plywood showed the honesty of the design, [allowing it to] not be hidden by upholstery,” she said. “It’s molded so it forms to the person versus products that look good but don’t fit people.”

Ultimately, finding the right fit is the purpose of the competition. Celina Virani, the Undergraduate Publications Coordinator at Ryerson, expressed appreciation for the event.

“I think it’s great…the fact that they’re letting students, staff and faculty decide what would look good at Ryerson, but is also functional and is comfortable, because it’s mostly us that will be using the furniture.”

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