In a sea of exhibitors at IWF 2014, gallery space was reserved for the next generation of furniture designers competing in the Design Emphasis student competition. A panel of eight judges selected winners in five categories, which proved to be a challenge based on the high quality of work submitted.
“The design and craft of this year’s Design Emphasis finalists made judging the pieces a challenging activity as we had to inspect every element to determine the winners,” judge Alan Harp says. “I was especially impressed with the number of students who submitted chairs and other seating pieces as this is one of the hardest pieces of furniture to do correctly.
“The students never fail to impress with their pieces in the Design Emphasis competition. The quality of the designs and craft continues to improve year after year, making it more challenging as a judge to choose the winning pieces. This year was no different in that the judges had some spirited discussion trying to finalize our votes on the top pieces.”
One of the winners, Valerie Berlage, representing Haywood Community College in Clyde, N.C., says the contest represents an important steppingstone.
“This contest has meant the opportunity to garner some national, even international exposure. As an emerging artist, one of the most difficult battles I am facing is getting my name out there, and making my reputation. I made the decision not to seek outside employment after completing the program at Haywood, but to focus all my energy and creativity on making art. So, at this early point in my career, I really cannot afford to buy the kind of publicity that the contest receives.
“Through association with Design Emphasis, it is my hope that people and galleries that I might have never been able to find or reach, will see my work and want it,” says Berlage.
The winners were:
Best of Show
Benjamin Rosenberg, Haywood Community College
• Winner: Mark Manczyk, University of Kentucky
• Merit: Luis Peraza, Columbus College of Art and Design
• Honorable Mention: John Barry, Southside Virginia Community College
• Winner: Benjamin Rosenberg, Haywood Community College
• Merit: Ian Anderson, Brigham Young University
• Honorable Mention: Adam Eaton, University of Kentucky
• Winner: You Min Kim, Art Center College of Design
• Merit: Richard Thompson, Kansas State University
• Honorable Mention: Kenton Beard, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center
• Winner: Valerie Berlage, Haywood Community College
• Merit: Brennan Gasser, Minneapolis College of Art and Design
• Honorable Mention: Adriana McNinch, Purdue University
• Winner: Sarah Mohr, the University of Kentucky
• Merit: Patrick White, Appalachian Center for Craft
• Honorable Mention: Nicholas Wolfatthe, University of Idaho
This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue.