Orange is a defining color for most Clemson Tigers. Matthew Szymanski, however, also identifies with green. Szymanski, a design major, left Clemson with a desire to actively make a difference in his community.
At DesignSpec, an architecture firm based out of Chapel Hill, Szymanski works on projects ranging from architecture to interior design, with an emphasis on sustainability and a modern design aesthetic. Additionally, Szymanski encourages the use of sustainable design while serving as board member of the Triangle American Institute of Architects and director of the Young Architects Forum & Emerging Professionals group. Szymanski’s leadership within the design industry allows him to make his voice heard about the environmental implications inherent to every design project. But now, he’s redefining the way we think about design with one word: ReSpace.
Szymanski, looking for a new way to raise awareness about reusing materials in design projects, joined forces with like-minded industry professionals to found ReSpace LLC. The organization’s goal is reflected by their largest effort, the ReSpace Design Competition, respace.org. This competition requires designers to develop project designs to be built with salvaged materials. Once the top design is selected, volunteers build it in just a 48-hour period. Szymanski hopes the event will help students, architects and builders realize the importance of reusing materials whenever possible. “We cannot sit back and watch vast quantities of materials that still hold value be carted off to the landfill without a second thought,” said Szymanski.
The 2012 ReSpace Design Competition received submissions from across the globe — Europe, Australia, North America and South America. “The purpose of this competition is to serve as a catalyst for excellent design with salvage materials,” Szymanski said. By getting designers directly involved in the process of sustainable small space design, ReSpace will be able to make a larger impact in the overall sustainability conversation.
“That’s what I love about the competition,” he said. “One by one, we are getting people to take up the cause and do something.”Szymanski credits his Clemson roots for inspiring his actions.
“Clemson taught me the importance of caring about your local community while taking responsibility for wider, global causes,” he said.