At Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Ian Simpson and Christian Blyt teamed up to start Cork Studio, a design studio focusing on exploring ways to upcycle reclaimed corks into a variety of retail products. The six-week course begins with material exploration, before transitioning to product development.
Cork as a material embodies valuable design qualities that can be easily exploited. It's available in many households and the physical properties of the material guide students in their exploration. Cork has a global story to tell as the typical post-consumer product that symbolizes the contemporary controversy around single use items and consumerism. The studio aims to show people the value in this material, and by extension all waste materials, and how we can use them to solve design and environmental challenges.
The students come out of the course with a marketable product and valuable experiences through being connected with retail, professional, and industry markets. Ian Simpson comments, “The ultimate goal is to communicate the story of the recycled material in their finished piece. This project was started in order to extend the life of a valuable waste material and to give students an outlet or direct line to the industry they hope to connect to when they are finished with their studies.” The course gives students a tangible, relevant challenge to work on that increases their ability to make environmental contributions.
Ian also mentions, “I wanted to provide students with the opportunity to connect themselves and their studies to the industries that would be supplying them jobs. I also wanted to connect students to real world problems that are affecting them at the local and regional level.”
We often hear from educators that they want to better prepare their students by giving them real challenges in their city. We hear the same from students, a desire to contribute and learn by doing. Cork studio is setting a great precedent and we hope that similar programs will be inspired by it.