Monthly Archives: October 2013

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.

06 0504

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

10 03  10 02

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.

10 04 10 05 10 01

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.

kitchen metal_laminate_kitchen_cabinet

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.

carlton-memphis   07

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

 Scroll to top