It’s Finally Over! … Not

After a semester of pouring our hearts out, wringing our brains like wet towels, and putting our blood, sweat and tears into our final chair prototypes, we have finally reached the end.

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We had 2(ish) weeks to build our chairs and we spent every waking moment on them. Many of us had unexpected problems… whether they were structural, laminate-related, or due to the busyness of a design school’s wood shop at the end of the semester, we all persevered and worked through them.

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Once the prototypes were finished, most of us had only a day or two to get our presentations, and our nerves, together. Some of us had even less time. Nevertheless, we all finished, and we all stood proudly by our chairs that Friday morning.

We had just a few minutes to make our cases to Grace and the other judges, throughout which they would only make notes, then move on silently to the next student. Well, after Grace tested out the sturdiness and of our chairs, of course. It was a nerve-wracking affair, and the judges deliberating for over an hour only served to induce more anxiety within our sleep deprived, exhausted designers-to-be.

After an eternity, the judges emerged from gallery that housed their discussion, and announced….

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Cora, Strata, icon, Lowland, Satellite……… and INFINITE. 

Arturo, Abizer, myself, Aaron, Carrah, and the lucky winner Jenny will all be going to New York next spring to ICFF!

Whether we are going to New York or not, our work with WilsonArt is far from over, and we are all excited, exhausted, and above all, grateful for the opportunity to work with the WilsonArt.

ICFF 2014!!!


By Paulina Seng

Dream Over

A PRESSURE of 400 lbs!

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With many of our designs being finalized this week, we all had different challenges to overcome with our chairs. Some had to go a back and take a different approach to their design, few make refinements and others consider their building process. The days towards the final model are quickly approaching and time to make decisions is urgent. Absolute concentration is needed to reach our goals whether finalizing design or testing the overall validity of the chairs structure.

In order for us to continue and get a real feel of how things scale up from half scale to full scale, the class did a full scale drawing of our chairs. This helped a lot of partially experience our chairs and examine how the form translated into full scale. This was beneficial as it was a quick yet effective way to notice challenges and minute details we could adjust into the full scale. There were plenty of challenges and we all received plenty feed back and recommendations to approaching our individual obstacles.

Jeff also showed us a a video of a line walker and the challenges he had to over come in order to walk the line he had been practicing on for months. It takes an awful lot of practice and determination to achieve something that you can be truly proud of. With that said, the same can be said about our design, we all need to keep going and pushing ourselves with our designs. Although all of us have many obstacles and frustrations we need to keep focused and continue onto our goal. We are determined as a class and excited of the outcome we will all produce.

By Abizer Raja



Midterm Review

After a long difficult week of model building, it was finally time to present our chair designs to Grace Jefferson at our midterm review.



Grace came down from New York to give her input on our ideas so far. We presented her with some sketches and models of our earlier ideas along with a laminated half scale model of our selected concept. Students concepts ranged from interpreting the theme “Space” in a very spacial sense (i.e. implied space, enclosed space, etc.), to interpreting it in more literal terms of outer space (weightlessness, space flight). Grace reassured some students that their designs are going in the right direction, while leading other students to question their design because they were lacking in the areas of branding, safety, or just general aesthetics and usability. Ultimately Grace made it clear that the main goal of all our chairs should be to show off the laminate and look hot doing it.

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By John Proffitt

Not Much

There are occasions in design, when creative euphoria overwhelms us; The stink

of resin, the sterility of our latex gloved hands, even the pinch of a recently bandaged

fingertip are little distractions to confident hands. At these times, we are unforgiving, the

size of our felt tip micron choice is actually relevant to our sketch, and our design is

crystal. I am irreverently unapologetic when I say that last week was not one of these


One of my favorite anecdotes to tell as an industrial design student is of our

sketching professor last semester. I asked him: “Do you ever rough out a quick vis.

sketch in front of a client?”, he made a point of clearing his throat and recovered from

his feigned shock, deadpanning, “…you never show them how the magic happens”. I

cling to this, imagining that perhaps the emotion of that moment, and the simple clarity

of his words would punctuate critical moments in the design process. Unfortunately, the

duration of last week was spent largely in calculations and estimations of the materials

we would need to construct half-scale models for the following Friday such that it was

punctuated less by the soundness our sketching professor’s words in solid, grounded

periods and more in the comedic misery of a precondition mark. We compiled several

lists and placed several orders.

After wading through the muddy incompetence of Houston’s ‘best’ industrial

suppliers, we finally gathered all our needed materials by the latter part of the week to

begin construction the following Sunday. Perhaps optimism is the prefix of progress and

this is when the magic happens but as it stands, we won’t be starting any magic without

a step back, a deep breath, and another cup of coffee.

By Aaron Mceuen

Going 3-D

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So far our industrial design class has experienced a whirlwind of chairs, mid-century modern history, and facts about laminate surfaces. But this week has been especially challenging as we narrow down our chair design concepts. We now have the responsibility to determine the best ways to use Wilsonart laminates to construct a chair that would represent our individual interpretations of “space” at its best. After brainstorming, sketching, and much discussion about our intents we have come to the part of the ideation process where we build 3-D mock-ups of our favorite concepts. 3-D modeling can be very challenging but mostly educational in a sense that you are forced to work with a material in the way the material allows.

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The Wilsonart challenge is to build a chair using laminates as surfacing materials, however for our first quarter scale mock-ups students used a variety of materials including plastics, fiberglass, paper, and foam. This week every student presented to Professor Jeff Feng and the class with an intent to let others perceive an effective expression of the theme “space”.  Though we are in competition with each other, the idea of this week’s critiques was of reciprocity. The hope is that if we are able to offer helpful suggestions to our classmates in terms of how to clarify their design then they in turn will offer constructive feedback on how to improve our own.  The best tell of whether or not our chair designs are successful is to lay your design in front of everyone and listen to the response. Hopefully it communicates what you intended. For most of us this was not yet the case. So we were given a second chance on Friday to improve our ideas and also to get the opinion of our program director Dr. Eunsook Kwon. This time we also presented how we expect to utilize the laminate in our design.  Dr. Kwon had very new and valued observations to share with us, as she was seeing our concepts for the first time. Together Dr. Kwon and Professor Feng offered much needed input as we continue into the final construction and refinement stages of our design project. I think most of us will be moving forward with more clarity and purpose than we began with, and it is very exciting to have a preview as to what to expect from the class of their chair designs.

By Carrah Kaijser

Concept Generation 1

After our kick-off brainstorming session at the end of last week, we each presented our 20+ concepts for our chair design.  It was encouraging to see all different approaches we took.

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Once our designs were narrowed down to two or three strongest concepts, we started working on ¼ scale models to better visually express our design intent.


Much of the week was spent building our study models while professor Feng went around studio having individual reviews with students.  It was not a bad thing that we were all so focused on our models and designs but our professor wanted us to take a short time out to steps back for a couple of minutes and consider the overall goal of this challenge, mainly, the artistic beauty of our chair design.

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At the end of the week we were given a lecture about the beauty of laminate as well as looking at inspirational works from Memphis Design, Zaha Hadid, Sori Yanagi, Henry Moore, Louis Poulsen and other influential designers.  We also spent some time studying past Wilson Art Challenge winners and talked about what made each of these designs so effective and beautiful.  After the lecture we all walked away with a better understanding and direction to our design approach.

By Alberto Fung

Brainstorming to Kick-off Our Ideation

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What is a better way to start a project than having a brainstorming session? When it comes to design, getting in small groups and discussing different ideas with your classmates is really more helpful than you can imagine.

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On Friday, September the 20th, our studio decided to have a brainstorming session; therefore we were divided in groups of 5 or 6 people. Instead of picking our own groups, the groups were randomly chosen in order to push ourselves to be out of our comfort zone and let our creative juices flow.  The day before, we had been asked to bring to class 3 pictures of our favorite things from mid-century modern design, the Wilsonart house and the theme of space. This allowed us to think ahead and be prepared for the brainstorming session the next day. On Friday, once we were in our small groups, every person had to explain his or her 3 favorite things along with the pictures that were brought, then the other people will respond with feed back and ideas. This was really helpful because we were all in a good mood and had an open mind to everyone’s ideas. Also, It was interesting to see all the directions that every one is taking with the project, specially the different interpretations of theme “space”. This creative exercise definitely helped us have a more clear direction to move forward and made most of us develop new ideas for our chair.

By Daniela Veronica

The Wilson House: A Mid-Century Modern Time Capsule


As our field trip to Temple, Texas came to an end, our guides from Wilsonart saved the best stop for last, The Wilson House. We didn’t quite know what to expect; we knew the story of the house and its importance in the laminate “world”, but what we didn’t know was that we would be stepping into a laminate treasure.


Walking through the door of the seemingly average house on a dead-end street was like hopping into a portal that took us back in time. After taking the first step into the house, we couldn’t help but feel happy; the vibrant colors that surrounded us plus the amazing people that received us, made us immediately feel at home.



Before the awaited tour of the house, we sat down and enjoyed a delicious lunch the people from Wilsonart prepared for us. Thank you guys!



After the delicious treats we sat down to hear the novel-like story of how the house was saved from being demolished, told by the hero herself, Grace Jeffers. She did not only stop the demolition but convinced the company to keep the house and went on to lead the restoration of what is now a National Historic Landmark!


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Grace took us on an exclusive tour showing us the use of laminate throughout the house; the material is everywhere but ceilings and floors. It is truly incredible!

Visiting this amazing house gave us a better understanding of the use of laminate and the mid-century modern style, making us even more motivated to find out what we can do with the material. Thank you to everybody from Wilsonart who took the time to make this field trip amazing! And thank you Grace for saving the house!


By Adriana Ayala

Wilsonart LLC. Tour

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Wilsonart founded by Ralph Wilson in 1956, has not only a great story but also great working facilities. Their factory produces more than 1.1 million square feet of laminate daily. In their factory, they provide great working conditions for their employees. The factory keeps their working floor very clean and organized. The way that their facilities are organized is amazing. They keep track of every department and their daily production. Their concern and appreciation for their employees is amazing.  They have zero waste program which ensures that no scrap goes to waste. Their concern for recycling is amazing since there are many companies that have no interest in the conservation of the environment.

By Arturo Barrera


Lecture on Chair History and Morphorlogy

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On September 13, Grace Jeffers was kind enough to give us a lecture on the history and the anatomy of a chair. She expressed a great passion for the history and the evolution of all of the chairs that she showed us. We were given specific instructions at the beginning of the lecture about how we weren’t allowed to take notes, but instead we were encouraged to draw the one hundred chairs that she showed us. Throughout the lecture we were introduced to some of the most amazing details on chairs and the names of the different parts of the anatomy of the chairs. We got to see the development of these chairs, and how different styles influenced new designs. To most, a lecture on chairs may sound dull and unimportant, but to a group of aspiring designers such as ourselves, this lecture allowed us to grow and to see the design of chairs in a new light. The details and that craft that was demonstrated to us in this lecture has had an impact on the way we look at design.

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We did rough sketches of every chair that she showed us, and labeled the different parts of the anatomy of the chairs. In our drawings, we paid attention to the small details that made up the entire chair and labeled them so that they could be identified later on in our process of design.

By Brenda P Arguello

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