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Making a difference through design

By: Tiffany Crawford

Several Ryerson School of Interior Design students will display their work at the 16th annual Interior Design Show, taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from Jan. 23-26.

Nisha Sewell, Emma Kamermans and Norain Chang are three of the Ryerson students taking part in the weekend-long exhibition. To them, the total design experience means a chance to interact with others in the same field, experiment with their imaginations and gain real-world insight.

“Being able to build something full scale and watching it come to fruition is really exciting,” said Sewell.

In January 1999, the first Interior Design Show (IDS) enchanted an audience of 25,000. Years later, the IDS has grown in popularity, attracting visitors that include international designers and architects.

On Thursday night, IDS will throw a party to celebrate the expo and let budding artists mix and mingle with industry professionals like HGTV’s Sarah Richardson and Diesel Home Collection’s creative director, Dennis Askins.

Friday is a chance for designers, decorators and architects to attend seminars taught by a number of experts, while Saturday and Sunday are dedicated to the consumer public.

“IDS is a wonderful venue for all consumers of design, but what is special to me is that they have opened it up to emerging talent,” said Ryerson School of Interior Design professor Lorella Di Cintio, who’s been documenting her students’ progress on her blog.

Chang and Sewell are two of seven Ryerson students working on a booth for the Creative Class feature exhibition, the portion of the show that brings together architecture and interior design students from top schools across Canada.

“Our thesis, ‘design is change’, is about how our design choices can affect the environment and the world,” Chang said.

“Our installation includes educational facts, political concerns and opinions of popular figures,” Sewell said.  “Some are meant to be shocking but mostly it should inspire people to start the conversation about climate change.”

Studio North, another featured exhibit, is where Canadian and international designers can showcase custom pieces in a marketplace-like setting. Kamermans and four other Ryerson students have built an installation that focuses on utensils designed by first-year students in hopes of raising awareness about food security. All proceeds from their creations will be donated to The Stop, a community centre that combats hunger and poverty.

“It’s like design activism,” Kamermans joked.

The 12 students, with Di Cintio’s help, have been working on their installations since October. The process was a long and gruelling one that included a lot of coordination and planning.

“People are here to sell themselves as much as the product. It allows you to push the boundaries of your creativity so you’re able to stand beside people who’ve been doing this for years,” Kamermans said.

“We have had a really dedicated team so that made it enjoyable!” Sewell said. “Everyone has been amazing and I think we surpassed all of our expectations.”


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