Design for delight – that was the direction students at the College for Creative Studies were given in crafting their one-of-a-kind chairs for the 12th Annual Wilsonart® Challenges Student Chair Design Competition. The winning chair and five runners up, sporting a variety of fashionable and functional designs from the Wilsonart® Laminate Collection, made their debut in Wilsonart booth #2248 at the 2016 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) May 14-17 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York.
Wilsonart, a leading manufacturer of decorative engineered surfaces, has for more than a decade hosted this unique challenge, making it the longest running student design competition of its kind in the U.S. Incorporated into the students’ college curriculum, the competition challenges the future generation of designers to go above and beyond form and function to encapsulate a story and project an emotion with their body of work, all the while celebrating the versatility of laminate. This year’s winner and runners up designed for delight, as was their prompt to amuse and engage their audience with their chairs.
Stephen Marchio of the College for Creative Studies was chosen as the competition’s winner for his design, “Prelude,” which will be displayed along with runners up during ICFF. The winning chair is a visual statement on craftsmanship. The form embraces the tension between construction and deconstruction, between fine craftsmanship and that which is “malfatto” or “badly made” in a playful sense.
“The winning chair swept us off our feet,” explains Design Historian and Wilsonart Challenges Program Director Grace Jeffers. “The slanting angles of this chair are an optical illusion, which distract us from the fact that the lines of this form are perfect right angles. It’s a visual puzzle that the judges couldn’t stop thinking about.”
Marchio explains that using laminate for the surface of the chair created a deeper, more intense color than could have been achieved through paint. The pastel colors of Wilsonart® Laminate in Brittany Blue, Sunshine and White further emphasized the “design for delight” theme. “Prelude’s concept is based on the idea that a maker often looks back on his or her work from years ago and can get the sense of progression,” said Marchio. “It projects into the future of a skilled designer’s life while simultaneously honoring all the little steps they took to get there.”
Each year Wilsonart Challenges is hosted at a different American Design school – one that encourages innovative thinking and unique approaches. “What amazes us is how each school’s distinctive culture and approach to design unfolds throughout the project,” said Alison DeMartino, Marketing Communications Director at Wilsonart. “The College for Creative Studies was no exception. We were captivated by the energy of rebirth in Detroit. We see it as one of the most creative places to be in the U.S. right now.”