Interior Design seniors chosen to send chair designs to NYC

Photo courtesy of Jordan Williams.

Photo courtesy of Jordan Williams.

Kirsten Bowers

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include additional reporting.

Five Kent State seniors from the interior design department will spend the next four weeks tweaking their designs of chairs in order to send them to New York City.

Agata Jagusztyn, Christopher Spisak, Jordan Williams, Rachel Tricomi and Sarah McCurdy won a class competition to determine which students would send their designs to New York City to compete internationally.

“It was one thing to know that we were going to be in a contest nationwide,” Spisak said. “But it was nice to win a contest amongst peers and students, too.”

On the first day of class, the senior design studio students were told they were entering a competition for the Battery Conservancy and were given the task of designing a chair for New York City’s Battery Park.

“I thought it was really interesting,” Tricomi said. “It wasn’t what I expected, to design a chair when I came into studio this semester. We don’t design much furniture, so it was definitely a different aspect to look into.”

Students were given a list of criteria their chairs needed to meet, including being durable in all kinds of weather, being able to be stacked and being able to fit all types of people.

“It’s a different type of project when you know you’re designing for a competition,” Jagusztyn said. “You have to think about [that] you’re not presenting to your professors, and your design has to speak for itself.”

With only four weeks to complete their designs, students worked on setting themselves apart from their classmates. The five Kent winners each took a different approach, focusing on different aspects.

Jagusztyn said she focused on the versatility in her chair; it can be used as a chair, a barstool and a table.

Spisak said he focused more on the branding and marketing of his chair through a logo and tagline. He calls his chair the “Valli,” referencing Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons because it’s “durable for all seasons.”

Williams said she tried to focus on incorporating green design. Her plan was to collect plastic recyclables from New York City community and take those, melt them down and use them as the material for her chair.

Tricomi said she ended up designing a “solitary chair; no hinges or mechanisms” and thinks that is what set her design apart from others.

McCurdy, on the other hand, she focused on the artistic aspect of the chair.

“The thing that I tried to think of was that I didn’t want it to look exactly like a chair,” McCurdy said. “I wanted to look more like a sculpture but still be functional within the space.”

The judging for the in-house portion of the competition took place Sept. 24 in the gym annex. Competitors presented their designs to a jury made up of their three studio professors and three professional furniture designers from the Cleveland area.

“It pushes us to be creative and work out the technical issues and those types of problems with the chairs, especially having the mentality that it could be something sent out into the real world,” Tricomi said.

The students will submit their designs to New York City by the end of October, where they will compete against professionals in addition to other students from North, South and Central Americas, as well as the Caribbean.

“It kind of hits you hard that this is actually going to be part of a big contest,” Spisak said. “It could be real life; your chair might actually be manufactured. It’s kind of scary.”

The next step for the international competition will be judged by professionals. Judges will select some to put up onto a website and the public will choose the final winners. Those winners will have their design constructed and win a cash prize of $10,000.

Contact Kirsten Bowers at [email protected].