Community & Philanthropy | Jun 23, 2022

Cadillac Fairview opens design incubator for social good in partnership with DESIGNwith and OCAD University

The DESIGNwith studio brings together academia, corporations and community to democratize both learning and design through public research, workshops, and exhibitions

TORONTO, June 23, 2022 – With a commitment to community and sustainability, Cadillac Fairview (CF) has partnered with DESIGNwith and OCAD University to launch a new design incubator in Toronto. Opening today, the DESIGNwith studio at CF Toronto Eaton Centre will bring together a diverse range of designers, students, and community members, and serve as a dedicated learning lab to explore the circular economy for creating lasting, social good. 

“We’re proud to open the DESIGNwith studio alongside our passionate partners, showcasing the powerful social impact we can achieve together,” said Jason Anderson, Senior Vice President, Brand & Marketing, Cadillac Fairview. “This is a first-of-its kind experience for Cadillac Fairview and as long-standing city builders, we’re excited that one of our largest retail properties in the world can purposely serve our community as the common ground for thoughtful design, research and knowledge sharing.”

Strengthening the Fabric of Our Community and Planet

Located on Level 2 (between the Dundas Street station entrance and Canadian Tire), the studio will function daily as an incubator space for OCAD University students, a student resident, designers and community members who will use the space to research, learn, and share their exploration of the circular economy through classes, research and hands-on design. Throughout the year, DESIGNwith will open to the public for ticketed events, starting with a sneaker-making workshop, a circular design student exhibition and natural-dyeing classes. 

The vision for creating a space that minimizes ecological impact also helped influence its design. The 635-square-foot studio was built with 40 per cent repurposed materials thanks to the thoughtful design from partners Design Workshop Architects. These elements were salvaged from other CF locations and previously used store fixtures, including the front doors and windows as well as the track lighting inside. 

“We’re thrilled to extend our collaboration with Cadillac Fairview following the success of last year’s CF Art Corridor Project on Yonge Street, located above CF Toronto Eaton Centre, which made public art more accessible to the community,” said Ana Serrano, OCAD University’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “With this new initiative, we’re excited to create a place where the public can learn more about the impact design has on everyday items through hands-on learning and workshops.”

Students and Professionals Innovating Together

Among the makers and designers who are part of the DESIGNwith studio are Katya Koroscil, DESIGNwith intern, and Ernesto Ramirez, a furniture design intern from Durango, Mexico; both students are in their third year of industrial design at OCAD University.  Both students co-designed a furniture collection for use in the incubator space with Industrial Design Professor Ranee Lee and Lee Fletcher, the founding partner at Fig40 and principal at Fletcher Scott Studio. The studio furniture pieces are designed with sustainability, flexibility and affordance in mind, and are made with easy-to-use dimensional lumber and readily available fasteners. This achieves the goal of sharing designs that are producible for anyone, by anyone. 

“As an OCAD University instructor, it’s always a delight to see my students get out into the community and do work for the social good,” said Ranee Lee, founder of DESIGNwith. “The DESIGNwith studio is also an opportunity to level the playing field for learning and design, which are often inaccessible for many within our own city. We’re grateful to Cadillac Fairview for opening up this significant community space to us, as it is truly only by approaching community differently that we can expect to achieve different results.” Also joining the space is DESIGNwith's student resident, Deanna Badi--an industrial designer with a focus on environmental sustainability. Badi is working on grant-funded research to produce a biodegradable, water-repellent solution for natural fibre outerwear jackets she designs and sews herself.

One of the first workshops to be hosted at the DESIGNwith studio will be led by footwear designer Nelson Silva, who has more than 20 years of professional experience in the field and focuses on sustainability and innovation in footwear. His five-week sneaker workshop will use upcycled fabrics for shoe-making, as part of DESIGNwith’s goal of democratizing design and knowledge through teaching and making. These workshops are open to the public, but half of the seats will be offered to marginalized community members and students ensuring equity and inclusion.

To learn more about DESIGNwith and how to get involved with participating community organizations or attend workshops, please visit

About Cadillac Fairview

Cadillac Fairview (CF) is a globally focused owner, operator, investor, and developer of best-in-class real estate across retail, office, residential, industrial and mixed-use asset classes. Wholly owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, CF manages in excess of $35 billion of assets across the Americas and the United Kingdom, with further expansion planned into Europe and Asia.

Internationally, CF invests in communities with like-minded partners, including Stanhope in the UK, Lincoln Property Company in the U.S., and Multiplan in Brazil. The company's Canadian portfolio comprises 68 landmark properties, including the Toronto-Dominion Centre, CF Toronto Eaton Centre, Tour Deloitte, CF Carrefour Laval, CF Chinook Centre and CF Pacific Centre. 

Continually striving to make a positive impact in communities where it operates by promoting social connection, growth, and a sustainable future, CF's Purpose is Transforming Communities for a Vibrant Tomorrow. Learn more at and follow CF on LinkedIn.

About DESIGNwith

DESIGNwith is a creative collective that transforms communities through participatory design. We bring together academia, corporations, and community members to share in the design process by learning from one another to create positive, lasting change. People’s deep knowledge from lived experiences, together with designers and other professionals is the intersection for disruptive design methodology to produce innovative outcomes. The first of its kind, DESIGNwith creates space to come together and democratize both learning and design at the intersection of circular design and social good. DESIGNwith is an explicitly social enterprise design incubator, incubating ideas for social good.  

About OCAD University

OCAD University is Canada’s largest and oldest art and design university. We’re a world-famous hub for art, design, digital media, research, innovation and creativity. Our students benefit from hands-on studio learning in small classrooms and have access to state-of-the-art shops and studios for both traditional and digital creation. Alongside a diverse and supportive team of instructors and peers, our students gain valuable employable skills to support them in driving Canada’s creative economy. Our graduates work in different sectors such as urban planning, environmental design, industrial design, health care, film, publishing, graphic design, visual arts and arts administration.

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