Has Martino Gamper kick-started an academic trend? Chairs were the exercise of choice for student designers this weekend at New York’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair.
New York’s School of Visual Arts won the Editor’s Choice award for its raucously playful booth, in which students anthropomorphized the chair, translating personality types into seating. Steve Haslip’s Bipolar chair stood out: a bare wooden half of a straightback separated from a pile of sawdust by a mirrored pane of glass.
The booth for Yale’s School of Architecture seemed downright solemn by comparison and no wonder: The Massimio Scolari Advanced Design Studio focused on generating seating for a hypothetical scholarly center on the ancient site of an aristocratic funerary complex in Saqqara, Egypt. Formally spot-on designs included throne-like seats by Minna Colakis (O Chair), Timothy Newton (Lido) and Michael Krop (Aluminum Task Chair); Lorenzo Marasso’s cursive-looking Plywood Fold Chair; and Chiew Hong Tan’s radiating star-based Mahogany and Steel Chair.
Wilsonart’s student design scholarship competition generated strong chair designs by five Cal State University, Long Beach industrial design students who were challenged to create seating incorporating the form of the company’s laminate sample chip. Jesse Clemmer’s blocky white and red chair created a vivid trompe l’oeil while Husin Kasum’s chair looked ribbon-like. The design by the deserving winner, Eric MacDonald, appeared refreshingly incognito, an assemblage of industrial machinery as much as a chair. www.wilsonart.com
Almost as unusual, the eco-friendly chairs by California College of the Arts student competition finalists played exuberantly with materials: Rekindle with skinny bent-steel legs and a walnut seat and backrest; the XS clear plastic club chair filled with salvaged foam strips and Vitamin Water cast-off bottles; the origami-inspired, fabric-hinged felt Folding Chair; and the mid-century modern cantilevered (and re-upholsterable) Interchangeable Sail Chair. Sponsors Bevara Design House and Wal-Mart have guaranteed a manufacturing deal to the winner.