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From Home Furnishing Business

Wilsonart Names Winner of Annual Student Chair Design Competition; Winning Chair Debuts at ICFF

The theme “Wood, Trees and the Forest” inspired students at the Maine College of Art to design uncommon chairs for the 14th Annual Wilsonart Challenges Student Chair Design Competition. The winning chair and five runners up made their first public appearance at the 2018 International Furniture Fair (ICFF) held this week in New York.

Wilsonart, a leading provider of engineered surfacing solutions, created 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.

“When we began our class, I took the students out to the forest for a nature-based learning experience,” said Grace Jeffers, design historian and Wilsonart challenges program director. “In the woods, they experienced something they would never have experienced in a classroom. The diversity and intensity of the students’ deeply moving, personal and emotional responses both surprised and awed me.”

Joseph Goodwin won the 2018 competition with his design “Tool for Translation.” His chair renders the complex pop icon of the chainsaw into a chair. The power tool itself is representative of competing ideologies, disparate politics and contentious debates. By using it, Goodwin translates these complex issues into a refined and beautiful chair form while asking us to consider where a tree’s life ends and when the chair’s life begins.

Goodwin received a scholarship and an all-expenses paid trip to New York to premiere his chair at ICFF.

A different design school hosts the challenge each year. Every chair is one-of-a-kind, handmade by the individual student and not intended for mass production.

Tammy Weadock, communications manager at Wilsonart said, “This year’s theme was a perfect complement to Understanding Wood: Sourcing Against the Grain, a program Wilsonart launched in 2017 to educate architects and designers about wood options that are from renewable, non-endangered trees.”

Wilsonart sponsors the student design scholarship program to foster the careers of emerging furniture designers in North America and to challenge students to create a unique chair that uses Wilsonart laminate to answer a specific design challenge.

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