Three California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) students have had their designs chosen among the top 50 entries in New York City’s Battery Conservancy Americas Design Competition “Draw Up A Chair.”
Design majors Ian Chambers, Shelby Connich and Imaan Naeem had their chair designs selected by a world-renowned jury as semifinalists in the competition, which had more than 675 submissions from some 1,500 professional and student designers from 15 countries in North, Central and South America.
The top 50 semifinalists come from nine countries in the Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and the United States. Of all the entrants, 30 percent were students and 70 percent were professional designers.
“I am very excited for them,” said Joe Ricchio, the CSULB instructor who assigned the chair project for his 2012-13furniture design course. “The ‘Draw Up a Chair’ competition was open to everyone: students and professionals alike. Their winning shows that they are competing successfully on a professional level. It is good for their careers and their morale. It is always nice to be recognized.”
The Battery Conservancy’s goal for the competition is to promote innovative industrial design use in public parks and to encourage a new design standard for outdoor seating. The winning design will be fabricated for the public’s use in The Battery, New York City’s birthplace and original waterfront park.
All three have the opportunity to be named among the finalists as the competition moves on to the public voting stage. Now through October, the public can view the top 50 designs, comment on them and “Like” their favorites by accessing the Online Design Gallery at www.thebattery.org/chair.
The finalists will be announced in November, and full-scale prototypes of the each finalist’s design will be developed and exhibited. The ultimate winner will receive a grand prize of $10,000 and see the fabrication of his/her design, estimated at 300 units, for use on the new Battery Green.
Ricchio recalled a four-week focus on the project in his furniture design class. “Besides going through the design process for an outdoor chair, it gave the students a chance to compete against their peers and professionals and perhaps win the grand prize of $10,000,” he said.
“I believe that all three designs were recognized, not only because they met all the competition requirements, but for much more,” added Ricchio, who believes one reason for the three students’ recognition is the way they exceeded expectations. “The designs are not only esthetically pleasing, but are also very good solutions relative to a good understanding and use of materials and processes.”
Chambers’ entry is called “Cascade,” a design Ricchio described as a very nicely scaled and detailed use of two materials with a nice sculptural quality.
“I am very excited to be chosen as a top 50 finalist,” said Chambers, who completed his bachelor’s degree in industrial design at the university in May. “It is a huge honor to compete with so many professionals and students around the world. There were many great submissions and I am proud that my design was selected.”
Chambers explained that his “Cascade” design was meant to be part of New York’s Battery Park, not just an item in it.
“The design was inspired by the nature (in) the park and the buildings around the park,” he said. “The form of the chair largely looks at how trees and flowers grow and are shaped. The front legs mimic a stem that splits away into two divided limbs that wrap around to support a floating backrest made of bent wood. The seat follows the form of a flower’s petals curling back away from the center and cascading outward toward the ground.
“The chair has a graceful feel but a robust look,” he added. “The simple lines and the mixture of metal and wood compliment the surrounding cityscape while not distracting from the beauty of the park. I am a firm believer in balancing design with nature. There is so much material to inspire in nature and it is where most of my inspirations come from.”
Chambers, who currently works as a designer for a small product development company creating products ranging from spa furniture and tattoo equipment to pet grooming supplies, stressed the importance of simplicity to his design.
“When a design gets too flashy or goes a little too far to be unique, it tends to scare people off rather than intrigue them. The ‘Cascade’ achieves a level of design that is unique while maintaining a simplicity that people can feel comfortable with and doesn’t compete with its surroundings but instead compliments it,” he said. “The (whole design) process was not just an exercise in aesthetics but also considered all aspects of the process such as manufacturing methods and cost.”
Connich’s creation “Arbre” was described by Ricchio as “a good solution mimicking the topiary in Battery Park with good use of simple materials,” he said. “Not only is it interesting in and of itself, it also casts great shadows.”
Connich agreed that the chair would mimic the combinations of light and shadow cast by the park’s trees. The chair will be made from aluminum, powder-coated to any desired color.
Naeem’s idea titled “Curvo” was described by Ricchio as “a very elegant and well-proportioned solution, very manufacturable.”
Naeem explained that the idea for “Curvo” was to design a chair with the elements of nature contrasting with the modern architecture that surrounds The Battery Park. “The result is an outdoor chair with wooden slats on a very contemporary looking bent aluminum frame,” she said.
The Battery Conservancy invites members of the public to participate by commenting online and voting for their favorite design at its Online Design Gallery at www.thebattery.org/chair.
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Media Contacts: Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454, Rick.Gloady@csulb.edu
Ken Swisher, 562/985-1727, Ken.Swisher@csulb.edu