The theme ?Borders, Boundaries and Mashup? inspired students at San Diego State University to design 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 made their first public appearance at the 2017 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York.
Wilsonart 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 trade show. Wilsonart introduced the program more than a decade ago.
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 monolith found at the Museo del Templo Mayor in Mexico City, Bacher created an incomplete picture that mirrors the lack of accurate representation by appropriators.
“Laminate was the 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,” says Grace Jeffers, design historian and Wilsonart challenges program director. “The judges 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 handmade by the individual student and not intended for mass production. Bacher received 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 an achievement, and this year?s students, once again, have created works of art,” says Alison DeMartino, marketing communications director at Wilsonart. “With a challenging theme and a multicultural environment like San Diego, the students have captured the passions running throughout the country with chair designs that celebrate diversity and freedom.”