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Innovation through Multi-Disciplinary Design

Azzopardi (left) and Robev (right) in the office of their 3,000 sq.ft design studio, downtown Victoria, BC

Studio Robazzo is a multi-disciplinary Design Studio offering unique and diverse design services as well as eco-friendly handmade products out of Victoria, BC. With over a decade of design instruction and experience at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture under our belts, co-founder Andrew Azzopardi and myself shared a vision for an ultra-creative hands-on career spanning a broad range of disciplines from industrial design, interior design and installation art to graphic design, web design and custom furniture.

After meeting at UWSA, we arrived in Victoria at the beginning of 2014 for my eight-month co-op job with two suitcases, an iMac, and our big idea at the back of our minds. We soon teamed up with Sarah McFadzen of St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, and a year before I finished my undergraduate degree back in Waterloo, we started what is now a growing and fruitful creative design business. It was through a series of synchronous encounters and occurrences that our roots were planted in Victoria, and it wasn’t long before we decided to make the island city our long-term home.

With two school semesters and a co-op term left to go, I worried I wouldn’t have the time and energy required to help keep the business going remotely. It was largely thanks to UWaterloo’s Enterprise Co-op program, which encourages budding entrepreneurs to spend a co-op term carefully developing their ideas, that I was able to successfully complete my studies and simultaneously help my team with growing the business into what it is today.

We believe in a well-designed future that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

Victoria, with its small yet vibrant population, turned out to be the perfect breeding ground for our big idea which revolves primarily around modern design with Mother Nature in mind; we believe in a well-designed future that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. We are constantly on the lookout for reclaimable natural materials, including driftwood from Vancouver Island’s endless beaches as well as marble dust left over from the cutting of countertop slabs at a local quarry, and we are always looking for innovative ways of reducing waste, chemicals and plastic in our work. The diverse set of skills Andrew and I acquired during our studies at UWaterloo’s School of Architecture have equipped us for tackling just about any type and scale of design project, even though we’re not directly engaging with the architectural profession (yet).

This 6' x 8' pavilion was built by Christina, Andrew and their colleagues as part of the Thinklandia 2016 Festival.

With a growing list of higher and higher profile clients, including local festival Thinklandia, Victoria’s Mayor, TEDxVictoria, and Pacific Rim College, our once-distant dream of a design studio is beginning to become a well-known player in Victoria’s Arts & Culture scene. In the last few months alone we won a Vancouver Island EcoStar Award, we placed in the top five for a BC Small Business Award, and we are very pleased to announce that we are the Art Directors for the first ever Victoria Fashion week!

If I have one piece of advice for young people with big dreams, it’s this: be aware of all the possible outcomes of your venture, so you’re always taking a well calculated risk, but remain focussed on the success that might come from it. Don’t even think about letting the fear of failure or ridicule stop you from trying!

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