The Design Fabrication Zone (DFZ) at Ryerson University is an interdisciplinary incubator for design and fabrication, where emerging entrepreneurs build their ideas. From concept development to three-dimensional prototyping and beyond, the DFZ facilitates the incubation and acceleration of project ideas and strategically propels them towards real-life application and business innovation. The DFZ has yielded over 250 members, 80 projects, 70 press articles and 18 commercial businesses.

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The zone fosters rich networking opportunities for student and entrepreneur driven initiatives through mentorship, workshops, strategic partnerships and cross-disciplinary collaboration. The DFZ provides access to traditional and digital fabrication technologies, enabling members to prototype and model ideas for testing, evaluating and realizing design concepts.

The Team


Filiz Klassen

Founder & Co-Director

Filiz is the Founder and Co-director of the Design Fabrication Zone and an Associate Professor at Ryerson University, School of Interior Design.

Her research emphasizes materiality as ‘responsive matter’ in architecture and interiors and focuses on adaptability to variables in environmental conditions. She is recipient of a research/creation grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for her project Malleable Matter: Material Innovations in Architecture (2005-2010). Her ‘Snow, Rain, Light, Wind: Weathering Architecture’ exhibition is displayed at Triangle Gallery, Calgary (May 28-June 24, 2010) and Design at Riverside Gallery, Cambridge (November 2009 to January 2010).

She has presented at conferences internationally in Boras, Singapore, London, New York, Istanbul, Eindhoven, Delft, Venice and nationally in Banff, Calgary, Cambridge and Toronto. Her articles on material innovations and responsive environments are published in books Snow, Rain, Light, Wind: Weathering Architecture (2009), Arium: Weather + Architecture (Hatje Cantz, 2010) and Mobile Nation (Riverside Press, 2008), as well as in other academic and professional journals. She is the co-editor of Transportable Environments 3, the third book on portable architecture and design published by Spon Press (UK, 2006) following the international conference she organized and co-chaired at Ryerson.

She has curated exhibitions and also exhibited her work at Archive Gallery, Gladstone Hotel, Design Exchange, and various other venues in Toronto. She directed ‘Weathering Architecture’, a performance that was staged as part of Harbourfront Centre’s HATCH: Emerging Performance Projects in 2008. For more information on her work and publications please see www.ryerson.ca/malleablematter.


Vincent Hui


Vincent currently teaches a variety of courses within the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada ranging from design studios to advanced architectural computing, and digital fabrication.

He received his Bachelor of Environmental Studies (Architecture), Master of Architecture, and Teaching Certification from the University of Waterloo as well as a Master of Business Administration (specializations in Marketing and Strategy) from the Schulich School of Business at York University.  After gaining international and domestic work experience with architecture firms around the world, he became a partner at Atelier Anaesthetic in 2003.

He has been awarded several teaching citations while at University of Waterloo since 2001 within both Schools of Planning and Architecture.  Vincent’s works with physical computing and digital fabrication have been exhibited and published internationally. His recent work with architectural appropriation of ubiquitous computing, augmented reality, and datascapes has culminated in the Arch-App, a tool that allows users to access data on any landmark in the built environment.


Tom Bessai

Managing Director

Tom Bessai is a registered architect in Ontario. He is coordinating the construction and fit-out of The Ryerson Futurelab, a new state-of-the art workspace on campus. Under the DFZ’s direction, the lab will feature versatile robotics infrastructure with the capacity for advanced fabrication and augmented reality production and performance.  

Tom is a founder and principal for technology and design research at Denegri Bessai Studio. The work of the studio has appeared in a range of local and international publications. DB Studio has won numerous awards including the 2016 Ontario Association of Architects Award for Best Emerging Practice. Before founding DB Studio with partner Maria Denegri, Tom worked for several prestigious architects including Arriola Fiol Arquitectos in Barcelona and the office of Frank Gehry in Los Angeles.

Tom has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta, a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Architecture from the University of California Los Angeles. In 2013 he completed a cycle of research at the University of Michigan, Taubman College of Architecture in the area of design technology and material systems. Tom held a faculty position at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto from 2001 to 2015. He has taught advanced design and fabrication at the University of Waterloo, Carleton University and Ryerson University. His experimental design/research work has been widely presented and exhibited and has been published in both popular and pier reviewed journals.  


Duncan Sabiston

Duncan has M.Arch from the University of Toronto. His work and research lie at the intersection of design and digital fabrication.

Jeremy Vandermeij

Business Strategist

Jeremy is the Business Strategist at the DFZ and the Executive Director of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival.

Previously, he was Director of Marketing and Sponsorship at IIDEXCanada and Creative and Marketing Director at the Gladstone Hotel where he was managing the brand, creating events and exhibitions, driving demand, building social and brand capital, and expanding the cultural content of the institution.

He has worked as a designer for 10 years in marketing, communications, architecture, education and interior design and has been art-making since he was old enough to negotiate tools. His experience includes Co-founder of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival, Curator of Come Up To My Room, Instructor at Ryerson University, and Designer at Roundabout Studio, ALSOP Architects and the Design Exchange.

He is available for public speaking engagements.

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Naveed Khan


Naveed has a B.ArchSci from Ryerson University. He is the DFZ Technician operating out of the workshop at the Ryerson School of Interior Design.

Lily Jeon


Lily has a B.ArchSci from Ryerson University. She is interested in design-fabrication as a means to create empowering and delightful experiences to foster deeper connections with the physical environment. See more of her work on her website.