Posts Tagged ‘green’

Student Profile: Che-Chi Liu

Che-Chi Liu, grOCAD Windowfarm

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the art that you create?

I’m in Industrial Design, 2nd year. I would like to explore social issues but I find that I do not have the time to address with my school schedule. I like to look at things really in depth and create solutions not just cosmetic solutions to problems but changing the way we think, the way we see problems and the way we look at the world. There is so much technology in our world to make anything we want but that does not mean we should.

What influenced your decision to major in Industrial Design?

I was always good at working with my hands so after working in the restaurant business, I had the chance to help my friend design the interior of a restaurant and  because finance was tight I needed to come up with creative solutions in order to design something nice without using costly materials. It was really interesting working in that process, it got me into looking through many design magazines.

Designing is fun — it’s almost like a game to come up with a design. When I see a design I try to re-adapt it, create new perimeters and mix-up their methods using new materials, it’s my way of being creative — I don’t see the necessity to be a hundred percent original, it’s a fallacy to think that we can own an original idea.

Where does your inspiration come from? Do you have a current project that you can tell us about?

I really bogged myself down with details, trying to organize things using a systematic approach to design. It’s like what I said before about original ideas, why come up with original ideas that someone else had already had come up with — why waste time and energy, it’s like re-introducing the wheel. I do a lot of background research onto a problem and try to identify the core problem not the perceived problem.

I’m not really working on a lot of design projects right now since I’ve started looking into activism such as the Zeitgeist movement. It’s a movement pushing for sustainable resource based economy, a radical nature of problem solving, for example the Toronto Tool Library and a new program called Toronto Time Bank Project. The Toronto Tool Library is a library where you can rent out tools and the Toronto Time Bank Project, where you essentially can barter your skills for other peoples’ skills and do away with the need of currency.

It’s also a world wide activist movement which I like to bring to the attention of Design Faculty and students — a lot of these things are brought up in the Think Tank classes at OCAD. Being in school does not allow you enough time to really learn about these issues in depth.

Do you have favourite tools to work with?

Wood planes. I just love the feeling of a sharp plane skid across wood.

Where are you most productive? Tell us a bit about your creative space.

I like being around creative people.

What is your work process?

I like to bounce off ideas with other people. I don’t think that anybody can work well in a vacuum. It’s interesting to work in a group even though it could be a drag sometimes, but I think that it’s necessary to train yourself to appreciate, negotiate, compromise with other people, it helps you to take other peoples’ critiques of your work which improves your work. We can all benefit from group learning.

Che-Chi Liu and Tom Doughty

What are the most useful skills you have learned at school?

Communication. You can learn other things in school but the most attractive thing and the main reason that I came back to school after working in a restaurant career was that I wanted to learn from people, being with friends and working on a project together really helps with communication skills.

What do you enjoy most about your studies?

Working with my hands, it’s the part I’m good at, spending time in the shop, having the freedom to try things and experiment with materials in the shop it’s like a communal workshop, seeing what people are working on and getting inspired by each other.

What’s your favourite book right now?

The Zeitgeist Movement Defined.

Where is our favourite place to eat around OCAD?

Free lunch every Thursday, which I co-ordinate.

What would be your ideal project?

Building an eco-village with Tom.

Recently, a New York based design group, Terreform ONE (Open Network Ecology) led a series of events at Onsite [at] OCAD U. You were involved with grOCAD hosting the Terrarium Workshop; Bees, Pollinators; Insect Wonders and Regrow your Kitchen scraps Workshop. Tell me about your experience while working on those projects.

I found it interesting to engage with people on a different scale, running a workshop it’s not like talking to one person but a group of people – it was an interesting learning process. It’s a lot like doing a presentation to a group of people, but with a lot to organize, so you need a good team that work and prioritize well together.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us, any final thoughts?

I really like the quote “be the change you want to see in the world” I think we should all go out there and actively change the world for the better!


04 2014

New growth by grOCAD at the Learning Zone


The grOCAD team has been actively gardening at the Windowfarm garden installed in the Learning Zone at 113 McCaul Street. After the successful harvest of basil last summer, grOCAD will be experimenting with a diverse collection of seeds over the fall and winter.


This DIY project is a year-round hydroponic vertical garden allowing the grOCAD community to grow herbs and vegetables using natural window light, organic based plant food, and a water based watering system. The growing containers are made out of recycled plastic bottles, and use clay pellets to support the plants.

Che Chi Liu, one of the members of grOCAD has been collecting and harvesting dried flowers and vegetable seeds from pea shoots, radish, spinach, chives, nasturtium and mystery flowers, germinating these seeds in rockwool cubes.

The windowfarm was first installed in the LZ spring 2012 and we are excited to see the continuing development of the windowfarm project.

Visit grOCAD to discover more about their community.


11 2013

A Fall Start to our New Hours


Welcome back to the Learning Zone everyone! Our regular operating hours have returned this week.

The LZ will be hosting student exhibitions, workshops and events throughout the year as well as the return of the P.O.D. Program: weekly peer drop-in sessions; Money Mondays: 10 Steps to Financial Fitness, free financial advice to students and grads; xpace: External Space, a digital media exhibition space which exhibits new artworks monthly.

The Learning Zone has joined the OCAD U community in the following green initiatives such as the Windowfarm garden project by grOCAD as well as the Greening the Grange re-usable dish exchange program called Plate Station – working together to help reduce the usage of plastic/styrafoam packaging in the Grange.

Drop by to study or relax and visit our unique collection of zines from our Zine Library and Design Annuals. We look forward to seeing everyone again.

LZ Fall Hours: Monday to Thursday: 9 – 9 pm; Friday: 9 – 6 pm; Saturday & Sunday: 12 – 5 pm. Closed October 14 Thanksgiving



09 2013

grOCAD Workshop a Success!

If you missed grOCAD’s Hanging Garden Workshop on Saturday, you missed a great time! Pop bottles were drilled, twine was strung, fingernails were dirtied, and herbs were planted. grOCAD provided supplies and expertise so we all went home not just with a hanging garden but, more importantly, the knowledge of how to care for it and how to make more of them!

grOCAD is a group of students, faculty, and staff who are interested in food accessibility, urban agriculture, and integrating plant life into the everyday. Wanna join in the fun? Check out grOCAD’s Facebook group or send grOCAD an email!


04 2013

grOCAD Hanging Garden Workshop

grOCAD Hanging Garden Workshop

Saturday March 30 1:00 PM hosted at the Learning Zone

RSVP by March 28 to





03 2013

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