Prior to becoming a full-time faculty member at OCAD University, Ranee Lee worked as a product designer. She operated a design business for fifteen years manufacturing home products and furnishings in both Canada and the Philippines, while exhibiting in tradeshows and distributing in retails stores in North America. Ranee’s professional practice in product design transitioned into non-profit design work, dovetailing with her Masters in education on participatory design framework from the University of Toronto, resulting in research creation and curriculum design at the intersection of design and social good. Ranee is also the co-founder of Thinking Forward, a registered charitable organization in Toronto since 2010, an approved partner of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), where she serves as a board member designing programs through arts-based leadership in inner city schools in Toronto.
Ranee’s teaching pedagogy reflects her professional practice. As the course lead for the first and second year studio courses in the industrial design program, she sees the need to keep the curriculum relevant in order to help students stay engaged and connected to the real world. Since 2015, she integrated design for social change into a 2nd year course by engaging with a group of immigrant women in Regent Park who sew for income generation as part of the City of Toronto’s poverty reduction strategy. These initiatives helped her realize that design education is never to operate in isolation, but rather in a collaborative industry to solve problems in the world we live in and focusing on contextual research to address the needs of the user. Ranee sees a studio course like a laboratory of life and piloted and implemented the first offsite course in Regent Park in 2018 and again in Baycrest Hospital in 2019, where curriculum is aligned with what is outside the four walls of a classroom.