Posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 by Russell Baldon
Kaii Tu's winning design is an embrace of dueling currents in California culture: nature and technology.
New York, N.Y. (May 19, 2012) – Wilsonart has named Kaii Tu from the California College of The Arts as the winner of its 2012 “Wilsonart Challenges...” student design competition at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). Tu’s “Torrey Chair" features a fragmented geometry, rendered from multiple perspective points. Seemingly random angles of different colors of wood grain laminate are used to simultaneously sculpt and paint the form.
Laminate cannot be formed into a compound shape—although it is flexible, it can bend in only one direction, not undulating, curvaceous forms. The engineering Kaii Tu applied to the design defines this rule and artfully demonstrates that an undulating, 3-dimensional form can be made out of high-pressure laminate. Tu used a total of 8 colors and 40 separate hand-cut pieces of laminate to create the chair.
CCA is the 8th school Wilsonart International has challenged to design iconic chairs using Wilsonart laminate. This year, students were asked to immerse themselves in the ethos of California; to examine both the state’s contribution to the man-made world and the unique phenomena of its nature. Special consideration was given to the question “What Is California Design?” Since the mid-century California has and continues to pioneer seminal design solutions. How can today’s students be more aware of this design legacy?
“Each year we host the “Wilsonart Challenges...” program with a different American
design school,” explains Alison DeMartino, Wilsonart Director of Marketing
Communications. "One thing that amazes us is how each school’s unique culture and
approach to design unfold with the project. California College of the Arts was no exception as their ever merging undercurrents of design, craft and art are predominant.”
The award-winning chair and runner-up entries will be displayed during ICFF at the
Wilsonart Contract Booth #2248 and on www.wilsonartcontract.com.
About “Wilsonart Challenges…”
Wilsonart sponsors the “Wilsonart Challenges”… student design scholarship program to
foster the careers of emerging furniture designers in North America. Each 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.
Last winter Wilsonart selected the Furniture Design Department at The California College of The Arts to host the Challenge. The competition is in reality a semester-long course taught by professor Russell Baldon and Grace Jeffers, design historian and materials specialist. The students were taught about laminate; its history, technical capabilities, current market trends, and sustainability issues as well as the history of chairs as decorative art forms.
Wilsonart is a leading manufacturer of decorative surfacing products. The company has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-
Hewitt National Design Museum and Interior Design magazine for design excellence.
Wilsonart International is based in Temple, Texas.