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Unique collection created from recycled materials

Three women working in a small design studio.

Associate Professor Ranee Lee (left) with DESIGNwith participants.


On Earth Day, April 22, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and DESIGNwith are partnering to unveil Form Follows Care – a collection of unique products made from recycled marketing banners.

Production, manufacturing, and marketing significantly contribute to social and environmental issues. Marketing practices have been criticized for their wasteful use of natural resources, especially in creating and disposing of materials destined for landfills after a single use. 

The Power Plant, a non-profit gallery open to the public free-of-charge, is taking strategic action to tackle these challenges by buying back its marketing waste and supporting local communities. 

With DESIGNwith, a Toronto-based innovative design-centred lab founded by OCAD University Associate Professor Ranee Lee, the gallery is upcycling the discarded materials into a collection of zero-waste products, including one-of-a-kind tote bags, pouches and wallets. 

“We are thrilled about this partnership, as it calls for a collective effort to foster a circular economy and promote social change,” says Lee.

Handcrafted by a team of women sewists from the Regent Park Sewing Studio and managed by Katya Koroscil, OCAD U industrial design graduating student, this product line uses every part of the banner to eliminate waste.

“The collection, Form Follows Care, celebrates our grassroots collaboration with Regent Park and our dedication to inclusive design practices aimed at zero waste,” adds Lee. “Our design strategy honours the original structure of the banner by deliberately using the entire edge for straps, the middle section for the tote, and the remaining material for wallets and pouches.”

In addition to mindful design that promotes social and environmental sustainability, each item features a unique pattern, showcasing artworks from The Power Plant’s exhibitions. 

“The purpose of this collaboration isn’t simply to add new beautiful products to The Power Plant Shop but to engage diverse communities to rethink marketing waste,” says Carolyn Vesely, Interim Director of The Power Plant. “We’re finding new ways to make marketing goods part of the circular economy. New ways for social innovation. New ways for building a more equitable and sustainable future.

All products will be available at The Power Plant Shop on May 2. 

"We at the Centre for Community Learning & Development are immensely proud to be part of this groundbreaking initiative,” says the centre’s Executive Director Alfred Jean-Baptiste.

“Through our Regent Park Sewing Studio, we've seen firsthand the transformative power of combining traditional skills with innovative design to reduce waste and empower our community,” adds Jean-Baptiste. “This project aligns with our mission to enhance employability and community engagement and serves as a beacon of hope for sustainable practices in the industry. It's a testament to what we can achieve when we come together to support social innovation, environmental sustainability, and community development."

About The Power Plant

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery is Canada’s leading public gallery devoted exclusively to contemporary art, ideas and conversations. Located at Toronto’s waterfront, The Power Plant is a vital forum for the advanced artistic culture of our time, sharing creative and inspiring experiences with audiences through free admission to exhibitions and public programs. The Power Plant is guided by the commitment to provide a platform for artists from diverse backgrounds, drawing attention to pressing issues and connecting communities in Canada and worldwide through contemporary art.

About DESIGNwith

DESIGNwith is a design lab for social and environmental sustainability in partnership with OCAD University and Cadillac Fairview. Located downtown at Toronto’s CF Toronto Eaton Centre, DESIGNwith employs Regent Park women sewists through participatory design methodology with the lab's Managing Creative Director Katya Koroscil. The lab embodies an alternative economy, promoting circular economy and social innovation, ultimately championing a caring design practice that considers both people and the planet. Through participatory design at the lab, the Regent Park women have crafted a collection with utmost care for comfort and usability.