In a collaboration between OCAD University and the Toronto Centre for Community Learning and Development (CCL&D), a second-year OCADU industrial design class was held offsite at the CCL&D and the Regent Park Community Centre as a way for designers to learn about the pedagogical framework of participatory design along with the women of Regent Park.
The course project tasked the students to design bespoke textile goods to be sewn and distributed by Regent Park Sewing Studio as part of their livelihood. With the support of Daniels’ Community Commercial Program, the CCL&D will open a future retail space on the second floor of the DuEast Condominiums in 2021. The Sewing Studio, a social enterprise incubation program within CCL&D, consisted of a few immigrant women sewers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Iran, who along with the students in the same classroom learned and taught each other to create a truly participatory design experience.
In this new learning framework, students went beyond the university’s walls and into the community where they researched and designed with/for the community. Only by approaching community differently, can we expect to achieve different results.