Every year the students at Toronto's Ryerson School of Interior Design (RSID) put on a gala to celebrate the end of the year and highlight student work. I teach Sustainable Design at the school, and don't usually have a whole lot to say about the way the show is put together, since it's a party, not an exercise in sustainability.
This year is different; the theme this year is RAW. Media director Naomi Tallin explained in an interview:
Raw is raw process, using raw materials, raw salvaged materials, the fundamentals that we learn to get us to a final refined project. We are trying to balance how the show has really refined finished pieces and show the visitors the in-between, the process. How do you represent that in a material way? We felt that the only way we could do that was using, reusing, and salvaging, and minimizing waste.
A key move was getting the Designboom Mart booth from the Interior Design Show in January. When I have seen the Mart booths in New York at ICFF, they are little more than tables. In Toronto, an elaborate display system was built out of 2x2 lumber.
The RAW team grabbed it all when the show was over and has been storing it at the school ever since, converting it into a display system. They also got the booth from the University of Alberta, and borrowed Heather Dubbeldam's Best-of-show pop-up office as the DJ Booth.
Toss in a couple of fallen trees that were grabbed off the street and you have a show almost completely built of salvage; They are buying cheap plywood for displays instead of the usual disposable cardboard, but it is going straight to Habitat for Humanity. Naomi says: " everything has a second or third life, and goes on to another after the show." The Designboom 2x2s are taking a final trip to a restaurant that makes wood-fired pizza.
I worry about where education is sustainable design is going, why it is just an elective taught by an adjunct instead of being part of every course. Architect and writer Lance Hosey, in a call to action for American architecture, has demanded that every school of architecture (and I would add school of interior design) should " transform its curriculum to ensure that every graduating student is fully trained in the principles and practice of sustainable design." It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to look at that photo of the RAW committee and see quite a few of my students in it; The RAW show demonstrates that they learned a thing or two.