For two talented Ryerson students, Mount Pleasant Cemetery represents life rather than death.
“As students we are constantly creating, but it’s not every day that we get to see our designs come to life,” says Katy Alter, a third-year interior design student who won first place, with her partner Jeff Cogliati, Masters of architecture student, in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Bicycle Rack Design Competition.
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The collaboration between Ryerson and the Mount Pleasant Group will come to fruition this summer in the form of “The Lotus,” an artistic but also functional bike rack intended to enhance the bicycle-friendly environment of the grounds while integrating with the working cemetery.
“The lotus dates back to ancient times and is symbolic to various cultures,” Alter says of the inspiration behind her design. “It represents the continuous cycle of life, the transcendental spirit that carries on beyond death, as well as strength and prosperity.
“This suited the context of Mount Pleasant Cemetery.”
Alter and Cogliati met throughout the semester, each bringing the benefits of their respective backgrounds to the project.
“We contributed skills that complemented one another throughout the design process. I felt that we were always on the same page in terms of our modifications and overall design direction,” she says.
Alter approached Cogliati with the idea to work together on the project after a friend suggested him to her.
“In the early stages of the design, we were working towards creating a bike rack that resembled the wings of a bird or angel,” says Cogliati.
“As we progressed through many iterations of the design, we came up with the idea to design the bike rack to resemble the lotus flower. We liked that the lotus flower grows from murky waters into a beautiful entity and we also realized that the form of the petals could be very functional.”
Alter credits Ryerson’s interior design program for giving her the tools to create an award-winning piece.
“Through the program, I have been constantly exposed to various aspects of the design world.”
Coupled with Cogliati’s experience with more large-scale architectural projects the duo was able to put forth a functional yet design savvy concept.
Winning first place in the competition includes a cash prize of $3,000, but both Alter and Cogliati are more excited about seeing their bike rack come into existence.
“I think the best thing about winning this competition is the fact that the bike rack will actually get manufactured,” says Cogliati. “It will be exciting to continue to develop the design with Mount Pleasant and see it come to life this summer.”
Correction - March 9, 2010, 3:48 p.m. EST: A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled designer Katy Alter's surname. It has since been corrected.