From retail to fashion, restaurants to office spaces—students at George Brown College’s Interior Design Technology Program in the School of Architectural Studies (SAS) are contributing fresh ideas to Toronto’s growing architecture and design industries. Despite the program's newness, Viz Saraby, Professor of Interior Design, has seen students develop innovative ideas, going on to succeed in the industry. The 3-year advanced diploma engages students with the design community, working with a wide variety of clients to find interior solutions and designers established in the industry.

Studio Munge class visit, image courtesy of George Brown College

Saraby started with SAS in 2015 when the program was recently new, and has seen it grow from humble beginnings, increasing from 9 students to the 65 currently enrolled. First year students begin technical classes through the School of Architectural Studies, with students branching into design and studio courses. “It’s what differentiates us from other [interior design] programs” Saraby states, noting the architecture and construction background makes their alumni highly sought in the industry. “A design program will usually start with design courses” Saraby continues, “however George Brown begins in construction, working on architectural details as the foundation.” Studio courses, which often involve designing for clients throughout Toronto, open up to students entering their second and third year of the program.

Concept for office reception, image courtesy of George Brown College

Students have worked with many clients in the GTA since the program's conception, on anything from residential projects to commercial spaces and restaurants. Last year’s students worked with Crystal Fountains, a company that designs dramatic water features, to design their head office (seen above). Students also worked with Magna, an automotive manufacturing firm, on the design of their meeting rooms and office interiors. Multi-day intensive interior projects known as 'charrettes' have also been conducted, seeing students designing in several projects, including the common areas of the condo at 110 Bloor Street West. Studies have even branched to fashion collaborations, working with Toronto-based fashion designer Annie Thompson on her Summer 2017 fashion show with students creating headpieces to compliment her designs.

Headpiece from Annie Thompson Fashion Show, image courtesy of George Brown College

Upcoming projects for this years students see further collaboration with clients around Toronto. A fundraising gala  hosted by Toronto-based Pia Bouman Ballet School on July 21st will see students creating fashion from recycled materials. Proceeds will go to a local food bank and the ballet school. Discussion is also in progress for students to participate in the design of an artisanal Italian bakery and rosticceria as it relocates to a new North York location.

Group photo of students with Annie Thompson (centre), image courtesy of George Brown College

Students have gone on to find success in the industry through a variety of practices. Saraby mentions alumni joining forces to work on residential interior design projects in conjunction with architects in Toronto. Some alumni have chosen to continue their education, moving into a degree program, while others work with interior design firms, construction companies or as product representatives, contributing to Toronto’s growing design industry.

Condo charrette at 110 Bloor Street West, image courtesy of George Brown College

Saraby expressed the SAS's intention of creating permanent gallery space on campus for students at the School of Architectural Studies to showcase work year round. Keep an eye out for more information on development of a gallery space, or public lectures held through the college. Want to get involved in the discussion? You may leave a comment in the space provided below.