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. To date, the DFZ has attracted 500 entrepreneurs and yielded 140 projects, 85 press articles, and 18 commercial businesses.

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.

Advisory Committee

Greg Smith, Michelle Hounslow, Arlene Gould, Wendy Robertson, Mark Cichy

The Team


Filiz Klassen

Founder & Academic 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

Academic Co-Director

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.

Darcie Watson


Darcie Watson is a licensed architect and registered interior designer whose professional experience spans a diverse range of disciplines and scales including retail and residential interior design, architecture, immersive sculpture, digital fabrication and electronics.

After earning her interior design degree at the University of Manitoba, Darcie worked with several leading interior design and architecture firms in Toronto and New York before returning to complete a Masters degree in architecture with additional training at Columbia University GSAPP.  She has spent the past decade working on high-end residential projects with architect Paul Raff and as owner and founder of Areacode, a small design practice in Toronto involved in residential renovations, additions, and new build homes in downtown Toronto.

As a senior associate with artist-architect Philip Beesley for almost three years, she managed the development, production and installation of large-scale diffusive and responsive sculptures as well as the urban-scale adaptive reuse of abandoned factories in Toronto’s Liberty Village.

Her interest in immersive and interactive architecture and environments informs past and present projects and explorations within her own design practice.  Darcie’s particular strengths and interests lie in blending her cross-disciplinary skills and expertise to produce enhanced richness of detailing in her work.

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Vishal Vinod Kumar


Vishal joined the DFZ team this year after completing his Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program at the University of Waterloo. He also holds an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from India.
During his time at Waterloo, he has had multiple opportunities to immerse in the entrepreneurship ecosystem there, most recently as a co-founder of CataLight – a start-up that aims to improve access to safe drinking water for developing communities. He has also worked as an Entrepreneur-In-Residence for student entrepreneurs and an Associate for the University of Waterloo Student Venture Fund. Prior to that, he was involved in a social start-up in India called Saral Designs that works to improve access to menstrual hygiene for women in developing countries. 

Andrew Jepson

Technical Coordinator

Andrew is a trained industrial designer with a Bachelors in applied technology and industrial design. He has co-founded an automotive startup, and has worked on a wide range of projects from 3D printing to architectural installations, composite fabrication to custom cabinetry, building automated machinery to glass blowing, upholstery and boat building.
His unique ability to blend design and creativity with in-depth manufacturing knowledge allows him to help others take their ideas from concepts into reality, and to navigate the intricacies of designing for production.

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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 thinking and 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.

Sonali Kallianpur

Sonali Kallianpur


Sonali is a technician, designer, and fabricator. She holds a Bachelor of Interior Design degree from Ryerson University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology from Mount Allison University.

She is interested in product, furniture, and installation design, specifically design-fabrication projects, which allow her to immerse herself in every aspect of the design process. Her design process often draws from her studies in both the Arts and the Sciences, as she believes that the active pursuit of tangential interests is crucial in becoming a discerning designer.