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Behind the Scenes: WWU design students present “ReMade”

Lisa Van Doren, co-owner of Ideal: Carefully Curated Goods, at 1227 Cornwall Ave., let me know about the annual “ReMade Project” hosted by Western Washington University industrial design students, that opens with a reception for the students from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, during the Downtown Art Walk.

Arunas Oslapas, the professor of engineering technology who started “ReMade” in 1995, says the project began as a way to combine sustainable design and entrepreneurship. The genesis of “ReMade” began when the industrial design students and Oslapas entered the International Design Resource Awards, one of the first international sustainable design competitions for product designers and architects.

Three of the 12 students won awards, and Oslapas won an award in the professional category, which launched his woven metal basket art business that continues to flourish.

The entrepreneurial component was added about 12 years ago, Oslapas says, and (yes, think 12th Man), he adds there are always 12 students doing the project because there are only 12 students accepted into the industrial design junior-level program.

Each year, the students in the program are challenged to intercept trash headed for the landfill and use it to create products.

“It is a material- and market-driven project which gives students the experience of taking a product from concept to store shelf,” Oslapas says. “Once the product is ‘professor-approved,’ the students embark on a small production batch of 20 pieces each.”

This year, “ReMade” will showcase products for pets that have been made using unique eco-strategies from a breadth of common, yet reclaimed, materials.

Think cat and dog toys, bird feeders and more, says Van Doren.

“From our initial meeting with students, the designs look great,” she says.

In addition to fabricating products from discarded materials, Oslapas says, the students must create hang tags for their pieces, signs, posters, publicity and design the front window display at Ideal.

“The amazing thing is that the project, from idea to opening night, takes place in five weeks! Students look forward each year to participating in this highly energized and rewarding project,” he says.

Adds Van Doren: “The design and fabrication process is usually full of steep learning curves for the designers, and many late nights as they only have weeks to complete the process.”

Here’s a brief description of the products:

The “ReMade: PETS” collection accessories will be available for purchase on Friday at Ideal. Van Doren advises visitors to arrive early because certain products might sell out on opening night. The items will remain at Ideal through Nov. 21, or until the stock is sold out.

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or