During New York's ICFF, 25 young designers will be honoured in a retrospective celebrating the fifth anniversary of Bernhardt Design's innovative interdisciplinary studio with Art Center College of Design.
The course was created to educate students in the process of designing products ultimately viable for production. Bernhardt Design selects products for introduction in the commercial market after each studio.
The studio course has successfully trained students over the past seven years to design products that are visually stunning, appropriate for the commissioning manufacturer, fiscally feasible and suitable within the constraints of mass production.
Former students have embarked on successful careers from designing for Marcel Wanders in Amsterdam to starting their own creative studios and working with top-tier manufacturers worldwide. Furthermore, the work of twenty designers from the programme are currently in production with Bernhardt Design including the Red Dot Award-winning Loft chair by Shelly Shelly, the Audio chair by Chris Adamick and Linc tables by Chase Willis.
“Several years ago I came to the realization that many recent design school graduates were very enthusiastic and had wonderful ideas, but they didn't know how the process of product development actually worked or what was required to design for mass production,” Bernhardt Design President Jerry Helling explained. “We started the Art Center studio to give students a ‘real life, real time’ experience from the initial client brief through the launch of a product in the market. This was an experiment to see if we could make a positive difference in design education, and seven years later we are as excited about it as we were on day one."
On view for the first time will be the work of Studio IV and Studio V. Tasked with a slightly different brief than the preceding classes, Studio IV worked in teams of three to create highly functional folding tables and table systems specifically designed for the commercial market. Born from this course are the striking Serif tables - an innovative and shockingly attractive folding table system for conference and training areas. Beautiful in a category that is primarily utilitarian, the arresting element of this system is the sculpted leg, crafted in polished aluminum.
Studio V presents work from six talented young designers who have drawn their inspiration from a wide scope of experiences and elements from consumer electronics to hot air balloons, from waterfalls to Japanese landscapes. Vanish, a bar stool by Erika Kevesdi, stands out with a gently curved seat enhanced with a back lip that vanishes into the background. The Accent table by Steve Oh appears to be one continuous and fluid piece floating softly above the surface. With the Pause bench, Jen Kuca created a piece that is sculptural yet functional; its soft leather top subtly beckons the passersby to take a moment and pause. Plane, by David Kim, is a bench of elegant simplicity that explores contemporary culture’s association of thinness to beauty. Jessica Pell has taken the ubiquitous round pouf and made it an object of desire with a distinctive custom stitching pattern. Rounding out the Studio is the bold, futuristic Lift modular seating system by Pengtao Yu, which is equally stunning individually or clustered to create a virtual seating system.
The retrospective at the ICFF in May 2011 will feature all the designs created over the past seven years including the debut of eight new products.