Hack-a-thon: Organicism in Costume Design

Ryerson’s Design Fabrication Zone is collaborating with Nia Centre for the Arts to design and produce innovative costumes for this year’s Toronto Caribbean Carnival. This year’s Carnival celebrates 50 years of music, costumes, and culture and bringing creativity to the streets of our city.

The DFZ invites students and graduates of design disciplines (Fashion, Interior Design, Architecture) at Ryerson and beyond to participate in a one day hack-a-thon that will challenge participants to leverage advanced digital design and fabrication methods to create an innovative carnival costume. Using the theme of ‘Chrysalis’, hack-a-thon participants will organize into small teams to design, digitally model and prototype a costume concept that is transformative. The winning team/costume concept will be awarded a cash prize of $500.00 and will be invited to collaborate with Nia on the development of their 2017 Toronto Caribbean Carnival Collection.

The DFZ has developed a series of experimental digital and analog techniques and related material systems to direct the costume design workflow of the hack-a-thon. DFZ mentors and technicians will be available to work with each group over the course of the day to develop the costume designs. Teams will work to produce the following 4 elements using synthetic workflows and material systems:

1. Shell: Lightweight CNC-cut plywood body-shells with perforations and tension cables
2. Wing: Diaphanous body extensions using dynamic stretched fabric system with unique nodes and connectors via 3D printing
3. Crown: Rapid 3D scanning of the head and upper body and digital modelling and parametric design for form-fitting laser cut and 3D printed output
4. Gown: Experimental hybridized pneumatic cell aggregations for inflatable garments

The winning costume will be selected by a panel of expert judges from Nia and from the Ryerson Design and Fashion community. The weighted design criteria used to adjudicate the 4 costume elements will be clearly conveyed and posted on the morning of the competition.


Introduction to Candice & Dwayne Dixon on the Caribbean Carnival and Nia Centre for the Arts
Coffee and pastries will be served

Techniques and Workflow
DFZ Managing Director Tom Bessai discusses generative strategies, material systems and digital fabrication in costume design:  Shell, Wing, Crown & Gown

Teams Finalized
Participants self-organize into teams of 3-6 people; limit of 5 teams for the competition

10:00a – 1:00p
Hackathon AM Working Session
Design and production session with hands-on assistance in technique and production from the DFZ mentor group

Lunch Break
On-site mid-day meal catered by DFZ/ Nia

Hackathon PM Working Session
Design development, prototyping and presentation preparation; ongoing support by mentors and DFZ technicians

Competition Deadline
All work on costume designs stops

Team Presentations
Each of the competing teams makes a short public presentation of their costume design to the Jury and to their peers

Chrysalis Costume Winner Announced
Jury announces the winning costume and presents the cheque

Register here

2016 Sukkahville Competition & Exhibition: Call for Participation!

Ryerson University has been invited to participate in Kehilla Residential Programme’s Sukkahville 2016 Design Competition and Exhibition. Ryerson’s Design Fabrication Zone (DFZ) is calling for Interior Design and Architecture students (undergraduate or graduate) interested in joining a Ryerson DFZ team that will design and build a modular Sukkah. The Sukkah will be displayed at Toronto’s Design Exchange from September 22nd to September 25th.

Teams will be awarded a stipend of $5,000 CAD to be used for construction, transportation and any other building costs. In addition, the winning team will receive a $1,800 cash prize. The winner will be announced Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 7:00pm at an Awards Ceremony & Panel Discussion on the opening evening of the exhibition. Confirmed Jury participants include Paul Rowan of Umbra, The Design Exchange’s Shauna Levy and local architecture critic John Bentley Mays.

This is the third year that Ryerson has participated in the Sukkahville Competition. Last year, three DFZ teams from Ryerson’s Department of Architecture won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, and in 2014, a team of Architecture students won 1st place.

If you are interested in becoming a member of this year’s DFZ Sukkahville team, please email cira.nickel@ryerson.ca before May 31st, 2016.


Learn more.


Kehilla Residential Programme is a non-profit affordable housing provider in the Greater Toronto Area. Kehilla has been organizing Sukkahville since September 2011 and it has grown from its humble roots at the Prosserman Centre in North York, to Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto in 2014 and 2015. This year, we are excited to be working with the Design Exchange on Sukkahville 2016.