The Essence of America’s Melting Pot Comes to Life in 13th Annual Student Chair Design Competition from Wilsonart

Winning chair, “A Piece of Tlaltecuhtli,” debuts at ICFF

NEW YORK, NY (May 21, 2017) – The theme “Borders, boundaries and mashup” inspired students at San Diego State University to design uncommon chairs for the 13th Annual Wilsonart Challenges Student Chair Design Competition. Each entry explores a resolution of life between extremes and uses patterns from the Wilsonart® Laminate Collection. The winning chair and five runners up will make their first public appearance in booth #2039 at the 2017 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York.

Wilsonart, a world-leading provider of total engineered surfacing solutions, created the year-long program, which is both a sponsored class and competition. Students learn how to design and build a chair, as well as how to prepare for a major trade show. Wilsonart introduced the program more than a decade ago, making it the longest-running sponsored student design class in the U.S.

Matthew John Bacher won the 2017 competition with his design "A Piece of Tlaltecuhtli.” His chair appears as a still life and serves as a visual dialogue that explores the politics of cultural appropriation. Inspired by The Tlaltecuhtli Monolith, a giant monolith found at the Museo del Templo Mayor in Mexico City, Bacher created a literally incomplete picture that mirrors the lack of accurate representation by appropriators.

“Laminate was the perfect material for this piece because Milano Rosso, the pattern he selected, mimics real stone. The chair itself is a statement about appropriation, and the use of Wilsonart surface material emphasizes this message,” said Grace Jeffers, Design Historian and Wilsonart Challenges Program Director. “The judges unanimously agreed that this chair was unlike anything any of us had ever seen before and the story was smart and compelling.”

A different design school hosts Wilsonart Challenges each year. Every chair is one-of-a-kind, handmade by the individual student and not intended for mass production. Bacher will receive a scholarship and an all-expense paid trip to New York to premiere his chair at ICFF.

“Interpreting ideas and emotions and personalizing them through design is a tremendous achievement, and this year’s students, once again, have created beautiful, transcending works of art,” said Alison DeMartino, Marketing Communications Director at Wilsonart. “With a challenging theme and a multicultural environment like San Diego, the students have magnificently captured the many passions running throughout the country with dramatic chair designs that celebrate diversity and freedom.”


About “Wilsonart Challenges…”
Wilsonart sponsors the “Wilsonart Challenges…” student design scholarship program to foster the careers of emerging furniture designers in North America. In its 13th year, this competition challenges students at a designated design school to create a unique chair that uses Wilsonart Laminate to answer a specific design challenge.

San Diego State University was selected for its Furniture Department. The department is considered one of the top five furniture departments in the country and is beloved by the Furniture Society of America. The department’s sole focus is furniture and has an outstanding reputation for balancing craft and concept in the work, meaning that both the idea represented and the techniques employed are of equal value. Esteemed, Matthew Hebert, taught the class, and American studio furniture giant and former Department Chair, Wendy Maruyama, came out of retirement to support the students.

About San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a public research university in San Diego, Calif. and is the largest and oldest higher education institution in San Diego County. Founded in 1897 as San Diego Normal School, it is the third-oldest university in the 23-member California State University.

Published at: 05-21-2017