New concepts spice up design competition - Continued

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New concepts spice up design competition
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Luke Saule
Art Center College of Design,
Pasadena, Calif.
Luke Saule designed this sleek and modern white leather chair.Saule is studying product design and recently began dabbling in furniture. "Overall, I think I want to design everything and not be pigeonholed into just furniture design," he says.

His plan with entering the seating contest was to create a welcoming chair to sit in featuring winged-out armrests. His final piece, the Annex Armchair, is a very sleek and modern white leather upholstered chair with an alder wood frame and polished aluminum base.

Saule outsourced the seat and base, but oversaw the construction. In the design phase, Saule researched modern pieces that would belong in public spaces, and created concept sketches of the general shape he wanted, which he then applied to SolidWorks. In the 3-D mechanical design program, he figured out final proportions, and from there created orthographic drawings and renderings for the manufacturers.

He says his college education helped him the most with the design process. "In the beginning stages, since it was my first real furniture piece, it was a lot about proportion. [The instructors] helped me a lot with proportion, as well as overall styling of the piece."

Saule has created a metal end table to match the chair and is interested in further expanding the line.

Lacey Campbell
Savannah College of Art and Design,
Savannah, Ga.

Now in her senior year at SCAD, Campbell enters furniture design contests to build her resume, as she hopes to own her own business someday. She got a finalist spot for her game cabinet in the Case category. In classes at her school, students are asked to look at things that already exist to see what inspires them.

"I Google different words and see what type of imagery comes up. I look at furniture books and try to find inspiration around me as well, then start brainstorming, whether it's on paper or imagery," she says.

The inspiration for her cabinet was board games. The class picked words out of a hat, and she picked "dining room" and "self-contained."

She solved "self-contained" by incorporating a pull-out drawer to store the games and their pieces. With the drawer closed, the piece is suitable for the dining room and can double as a serving table.

Campbell believes the best part of the piece is the attention to detail in the tray, which has places for specific items, such as the dice and egg timer. She hopes the judges will take note, but, win or lose, her future plans aren't going to change.

"I'm still going to have the same drive that I have. I have a very deep passion for furniture, so I'll just keep pushing ahead."

Austin Rhodes
Haywood Community College, Clyde, N.C.
Autin Rhodes' chair.Rhodes, who graduated in May and joined a cooperative shop with two other furniture makers in Asheville, N.C., says he entered the Seating category because he felt up to a challenge.

"Chairs are difficult to design and make. It's a good challenge, I think, especially for a new designer and maker, because there are a lot of different techniques that need to be learned to make that piece," says Rhodes.

In building the modern chair out of cherry, Rhodes started by making templates. He claims his design style is all about saving time, so if in the future he needed to make a whole set for a dining room, he could quickly redo all the pieces at once, rather than separately.

"I have a degree in architecture design. I like to hand-draw everything full scale — it helps me to work out all the connections and joints and angles before I get into making the piece so there's not so much flying by the seat of my pants. It's easier to have a plan to work from."

But designing the chair was still the most difficult phase, especially in deciding where to simplify it to prevent it from looking bulky.

"The highlight of the piece is the part that curves back," says Rhodes. "It's bolted to the bottom; it actually flexes a little. I think it turned out nicely. I had to make a form and mold multiple layers of veneer and press them together in a vacuum press. It's comfortable for most average-sized people."

In the spirit of competition, Rhodes says it doesn't matter if he wins.

"I'm going to try to enter as many competitions as I can, but I know it's all very subjective. I'm sure there were some very nice pieces that didn't get accepted [into Design Emphasis], so I'm just honored to be a finalist."