NEW YORK, NY (May 20, 2019) – “The Future” was the theme that students at Kent State University considered to design chairs for the 15th Annual Wilsonart Challenges Student Chair Design Competition. Each entry was inspired by the students’ personal interpretation of what the future means and how it can be expressed in a chair design. For the first time this year, students were encouraged to explore this theme through parametric design and digital fabrication. Students used patterns from the Wilsonart® Laminate Collection. The winning chair and five runners up will make their first public appearance in booth #2213 at the 2019 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York.
Wilsonart, a world leading creator of beautiful engineered surfaces, developed the year-long program, which is both a sponsored class and a competition. Students learn how to design and build a one-of-a-kind chair, as well as how to prepare for a major trade show. Wilsonart introduced the program more than a decade ago, making it the longest-running sponsored student design class in the U.S.
Greg Genter won the 2019 competition with his design “Assembly.” His chair is an exploration into what a chair should be. Assembly requires that the user put energy and thoughtfulness into the act of sitting. In turn, by putting in this energy, one inherently connects more with the object and thus receives a richer experience. The judges’ noted that Assembly is both art and architecture. The chair takes cues from Brutalist architecture and the architectural sense of form and multi-function. The use of laminate in Assembly’s design made the volume of the form read more as an authentic and integrated object. Judges also appreciated the chair’s monumental scale and the choice of grey that allowed for a delightful play of shadows.
“Using parametric design and digital fabrication helped the students concept, design and build chairs that have an architectural sense to them,” said Grace Jeffers, Design Historian and Wilsonart Challenges Program Director. “Through this process, the students have created stunning chairs that are an excellent expression of the brief they were given – to think about the future.”
A different design school hosts Wilsonart Challenges each year. This year, Wilsonart worked with Kent State College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Director of the Interior Design Program and Associate Professor Dr. Pamela Evans, IIDA 2018 Educator of the Year, and Associate Professor Bill Lucak, worked with the students over the course of the year. “The process is one that takes the students, professors and staff on a journey of exploration of not only the design process but one of self-exploration,” Dr. Evans noted. “The six chairs that are exhibited here are examples of that endeavor.” Every chair is one-of-a-kind, handmade by the individual student and not intended for mass production. Genter will receive a scholarship and an all-expenses paid trip to New York to premiere his chair at ICFF.
“From a chair inspired by the philosophy of ‘Go with the Flow’ to another one that communicated ‘Life is a Journey,’ this year’s students have beautifully expressed their thoughts about the future,” noted Tammy Weadock, Communications Manager at Wilsonart. “The Future was also a perfect guidepost for designing with laminate, a material which continues to evolve each year in equal parts art and engineering. We are overwhelmed with the students’ artistry, creativity and inventive uses.”
About “Wilsonart Challenges…”
Wilsonart sponsors the “Wilsonart Challenges…” student design scholarship program to foster the careers of emerging furniture designers in North America. Now in its 15th year, this competition challenges students at a design school to create a unique chair that uses Wilsonart® Laminate to answer a specific design challenge.
Wilsonart, a world leading engineered surfaces company, is driven by a mission to create surfaces people love, with service you can count on, delivered by people who care. The company manufactures and distributes High Pressure Laminate, Quartz, Solid Surface, Coordinated TFL and Edgebanding and other engineered surface options for use in the office, education, healthcare, residential, hospitality and retail markets. Operating under the Wilsonart®, Resopal®, Polyrey®, Arborite®, Laminart®, Bushboard™, Shore™, Mermaid™, Ralph Wilson®, KML® and Durcon® brands, the company continuously redefines decorative surfaces through improved performance and aesthetics. For more information, visit www.wilsonart.com or connect with us on Facebook, Houzz, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
The Kent State College of Architecture and Environmental Design
The College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State University is dedicated to the education of responsible professionals who are committed to the improvement of the quality of life, enhancement of the physical environment and the protection of the public welfare. The college also promotes research in the various fields of environmental design, development of faculty scholarship, broadening of students’ exposure to advanced theory and techniques and dissemination of knowledge. It contributes to the public welfare through its outreach programs to assist communities in their effort of improving the physical environment.