The students have the concepts, the sewing collective has the skills. Second-year Industrial Design students are teaming up with a sewing collective run by women in Regent Park to create marketable products and a potential source of added income for the community.
The collaboration came about when assistant professor Ranee Lee met with Angela Draskovic, president of the Yonge Street Mission, to discuss how design for social innovation can fit in with Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.
Lee learned about projects going on in Regent Park and found a way to integrate the sewing collective into her existing curriculum for the design course Identity Materialized, giving students an opportunity to engage in experiential learning.
Members of the collective welcomed the students to their workspace at a Gerrard St. community centre in November. They started the collective as a way to get together with other women and sew clothing and household goods.
The students are now taking what they learned from members of the collective and applying it to a soft goods project in class. This involves designing products that can be produced locally by the collective, developing a brand identity that reflects the revitalized Regent Park, conducting market research and creating advertising for the collective and its products.
In December, members of the collective will come to OCAD University to hear the students present their design ideas and, in turn, to give their own feedback and input.