From the classroom to the community


What: "ReMade: Culinary" opening

Where: Ideal, 1227 Cornwall Ave.


Opening exhibit from 6-9pm Fri., Nov. 2


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Rest assured that the clever culinary products on display for perusal and purchase beginning Fri., Nov. 2 at Ideal will be like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

That’s par for the course where “ReMade” is concerned. As the project between the eclectic downtown Bellingham retail store and the junior class of Western Washington University Industrial Design students helmed by professor Arunas Oslapa enters its 11th year, it’s clear the community collaboration—with a goal that includes taking materials that would have ended up in the landfill and turning them into functional and well-designed consumer products—is a resounding success.

Ideal co-owner Lisa Van Doren reports that this year’s selection of items is focused on the kitchen. Visitors at the opening during the downtown Bellingham Art Walk and beyond will find fruit bowls made from discarded vinyl records; salt shakers fashioned from recycled Honey Moon mead bottles and reformed plastic; hot pads utilizing fabric leftovers from Ragfinery; utility aprons created by offcuts from Oyster Creek Canvas; succulent planters using discarded dorm beds and office chair casters; coffee-cup cozies with glass from liquor bottles from local bars, felt and cork; shopping totes made with offcuts from Skookum Sail Repair; and phone prop/holders sourced from ceramic tiles and cork from the RE Store.

“We deal with design every day at the shop, but not as frequently with the actual people behind the designs,” Van Doren says. “It’s so amazing each year to see the designs progress from ‘maybe a bit rough’ at our first meeting to the beautiful finished products for sale. Arunas is a fantastic teacher and we enjoy watching him interact with the students and see how they grow with his encouragement.”

For the annual exhibit, the 12 students do much more than present their finished projects and sit back to accept accolades. In a matter of weeks, they not only design their products, they also gather all of the materials, produce a limited edition of 20, and create all packaging and branding for their particular pieces. Van Doren and co-owner Kathleen Iwersen provide some guidance during the process, sharing their thoughts from a retail perspective.

“Kathleen and I love collaborating with the students,” Van Doren says. “Their creativity, energy and resourcefulness are contagious. We always feel energized after working with them. And just being around talented people is really fun and inspiring.”

In addition to helping the students expand their off-campus skill sets, Van Doren says she and Iwersen value that WWU is part of the Bellingham community. Van Doren is an alumnus who graduated in 1992 with an art history degree, and a number of Ideal’s customers either work at or attend the university. Additionally, two of the current staff are students pursuing the industrial design track.

“We strive to find ways to connect campus with downtown and this project has proven to be very effective,” Van Doren says. “The larger Bellingham community loves this project and gets very excited to see local talent in the spotlight. We have customers asking about the project throughout the year in anticipation.”

The “ReMade: Culinary” products will only be on display and for sale through Nov. 16—or until supplies of the limited items run out. So if you’re looking for a way to support up-and-coming designers and procure a couple cool items for your kitchen in the process, now’s the Ideal time.

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