Pt 1 / Research


I've chosen to research the following three areas: 

  1. Existing RSID Studio Culture
  2. Lighting
  3. Designing for Learning. 

Selecting appropriate topics is crucial, for they will later inform design decisions. 


1 / Existing RSID Studio Culture

Ryerson University's School of Interior Design (also known as RSID) is housed in a renovated post-and-beam warehouse in downtown Toronto. Opening it's doors in 1948, the school has gathered worldwide recognition as one of the top schools for interior design in the world. This wide-spread industry respect is largely due to the creative minds that pass through it's doors. It's hands-on approach to learning leaves no room for traditional textbook-based university experience.

All classes are housed in 350 Victoria Street building. Within this building there are: classrooms, faculty offices, a design centre, a large studio space, an open multi-use loft space and administration office. There are three main pillars of RSID's studio culture:



Since it's inception, the school has set the bar for the practice of Interior Design. It has done so not only because of the creativity it fosters, but through it's constant push for innovation. 

Studio classes are intended to challenge its students to think "outside the box", often throwing the rules out the window to allow for creative freedom. This is clearly demonstrated in the work produced by it's students.



RSID is a community. The school curriculum generates a great deal of stress, and students here feel that they have a strong support network to turn to. This sense of community is primarily fostered in the studio environment, where everyone has their own workspace.

This community is an ideal environment for provoking spontaneous collaboration, which often lead to refreshing new ideas.



Productivity is invaluable at RSID -  for both students and teachers. With the demanding course-load, the school provides a place for maximum productivity which contributes to students' success. It is considered a crucial part of your education experience to learn how to work in a studio environment because that will be how you work in a firm. 


2 / Lighting

Lighting can either make or break work environments. In order to create a healthy creative space, lighting must be considered. Light in the morning helps us wake up and feel alert and energized, while dimmer light at night cues us to go to sleep and stay asleep. Adequate light levels at the appropriate time of day benefit our alertness, mood, productivity, sleep patterns and many other aspects of our physiology.



Brought in through windows, skylights and glass doors. Varies drastically depending on time and day. In a Herman Miller case study, researchers found that:

...the changing quality of daylight has proven effects on human performance, triggering and reinforcing the body’s natural biological rhythms.”

An effective example of architecture using daylight can be found at the Toronto Eaton Centre, where the utilization of a large skylight gives the impression of being outdoors.

Task Lighting

Lights smaller spaces within the workplace. Used in more stationary work environments. This adds control over their environment will make staff and students more productive and comfortable.

Lighting in the workplace generally includes task lighting the person can control... (Herman Miller)

The key word here is control. Simply giving people the option of task lighting can reduce stress. An example of successful task lighting can be found in Ryerson’s Student Learning Centre, where every workstation is equipped with an individual task light with an on-off controls. 

Diffused Lighting

Emits uniform, soft lighting which illuminates an entire space but produces reduced shadows and reflections. According to Pacific Standard Magazine,

... a dim room encourages freedom of thought and in- spires innovation.

And an article written by The Daily Mail concluded that... 

  1. People in dim light are better at solving problems.
  2. Those in normal light are no more creative than those in bright light.
  3. We can become more creative just by thinking about being in dim light. 

3 / Designing for Learning

Study after study has cited that the correct environment can greatly improve student engagement, enrolment, and even general well-being. So, what is the "correct environment"?


Maximizing Comfort

Shelter from the elements and access to fresh air are considered the "base-line" requirements for comfortable school design. But according to Randall Fielding in the 2006 issue of the CEFPI Planner, additional criteria should include:

  • Daylight in all appropriate learning spaces.
  • Windows to landscapes, streetscapes or activities.
  • Operable windows, allowing for control of ventilation and fresh air.
  • Availability of comfortable seating and individual reflective spaces.

Green Building

While green building is not a requirement for spaces of learning, it is considered an asset. As a society we are becoming much more aware of our actions and how they impact our planet. 

Green building in educational spaces can include but are not limited to: community gardens, green roofs, geothermal heating and energy-saving window systems.

Extroverted Planning

Extroverted planning refers to the building and its relation to it's surroundings. There's been a tendency for architects to create closed-off institutions; which harbour a sense of shared-identity among students. This is known as introverted planning.

An extroverted approach to planning encourages permeability between the students and the community beyond the school. This approach recognizes the power of society and culture.