Erin Lavigne Design Lab

While at SJK, Erin Lavigne, Class of 2004, was nurtured by her art teacher, Ms MacDonald, to explore her talent. To be pushed and inspired, made all the difference. “I wouldn’t be where I am, if it wasn’t for Ms MacDonald” says Erin, who received a list of careers that included automotive design. With her extensive family history of aircraft pilots and engineers, she found herself naturally moving towards industrial design, which allowed her to blend engineering and art. She is now an established footwear designer in Brooklyn, New York. 

Reflecting back on her career journey, she could see that by bringing design and functionality together in an experiential learning space, SJK students could prepare for post-secondary studies and future careers in art and design. With support from Erin and her family, the Erin Lavigne Design Lab was developed, along with the Erin Lavigne Scholarship for innovative problem-solvers.

Erin’s personal experience receiving the generosity of others, moved her to support SJK. “People have done really amazing things for me, my career. If people didn’t give to me, I wouldn’t be where I am. So, I love the idea of giving back.”

Students have been enjoying working on design challenges in the Erin Lavigne Design Lab. The new tools and furniture, as well as the way the materials are organized, have all made a remarkable difference. SJK is tremendously grateful for the support of Erin Lavigne and the Lavigne Family, and for their foresight and generosity. 

With support from Erin Lavigne and the Lavigne Family, SJK was able to construct the slat wall, which has had a dramatic effect on students in the program. Mounting organizing containers on the wall enables students to immediately see the inventory of available tools and materials. Not only does the display create excitement when students see the space for the first time, but it also helps to spark ideas about how to solve design challenges. More time can be focused on designing, while cabinet space is freed up to store student work and materials.

Tables with butcher block wood tops, have been funded through the Lavigne Family’s donation. Equipped with wheels, furniture can be moved into different configurations that are more beneficial for collaborative work. Or, space can be created to lay down mats for projects such as building a driverless car. Storage is provided underneath these tables, along with pegboard to hang items which are used more often, such as clamps.

Toolkits are now provided and shared between 2 students. They are encouraged to become knowledgeable about tools and how to safely use them, with teacher direction. Ideally, this will also instill confidence to use tools outside of the classroom, in everyday settings--with appropriate supervision. 

Projects such as this Chain Reaction machine, provide experience with inclined planes, pulleys, dowels, drilling holes and aesthetic treatments. Grade 2 students are brought in to provide feedback on the work of grade eight students, promoting interaction and collaboration.


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