Ryerson’s School of Interior Design is one of the best — it poses a problem.
Recently named one of the three top interior design schools in the world by Azure Magazine, Ryerson credits the accomplishment to its focus on problem solving.
“For us that’s what makes interior design real,” says Annick Mitchell, chair of the school. “From the get-go we want students looking at things and questioning.”
Mitchell traces the approach to a speech given by architectural critic Christopher Hume years earlier in which he discussed the disconnect between real world problems and design.
“We listened and really took that message to heart.”
It’s an approach that has the school outranking heavyweights like Harvard, Columbia, Yale, MIT, Royal College of Art (London) and others in Azure’s guide ‘to the best design schools worldwide.’ And it has students gaining real-world experience.
This year Katy Alter, a third-year interior design student, her partner Jeff Cogliati, master of architecture, won first place in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery bike rack competition. They’ll begin production of their design this April and see it installed by the summer. Second-year students Rochelette Dumbrique and Kieran Meschino are part of the foursome that created KinBin, a lego-looking recycling system displayed at the Toronto Interior Design Show. They are currently in talks about production with an interested manufacturer.
Both groups credit the school for their success. “Through the Interior Design Program, I have been constantly exposed to various aspects of the design world,” says Alter. “You have to consider the context as well as the implications for your designs. You’re given a set of parameters for which you must find the appropriate solution.”
Dumbrique and Meschino agree. Where as other schools at this years design show focused on project display, Ryerson’s objective was product design, according to the girls. “We had to find a problem that we wanted to solve and solve it,” says Meschino. “Our curriculum is problem-solving based,” adds Dumbrique, “it’s skill they really try and have us develop.”
But posing a problem is only one part of the equation. Solving it is the other, and there Mitchell credits the students. “We’re really lucky. We really have been able to attract the brightest and the best. You get these constellations of people where you get amazing student, faculty, good administration and it all comes together. If universities could predict how it happened they’d market it.”