This week kicked off Project UDesign, a competition for furniture design students at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to design an upholstered wing chair that is both sustainable and sellable. The contest will engage the entire furniture industry and consumers to select the winning chair design at North Carolina's famous High Point Market in October.
Century Furniture (for more information click here) and the Sustainable Furnishings Council member have pledged to put the new wing chair into production after the winner is named this fall. The winner of Project UDesign will receive a $1,000 award from Cargill's BiOH® polyols business. Century Furniture will additionally pay the student a royalty for each unit of the winning chair design it sells.
"The goal of Project UDesign is to educate the industry and consumers on the topic of sustainable furniture design," said Yusuf Wazirzada, general manager of Cargill's BiOH® polyols business. "Research shows a significant percentage of consumers are seeking information about eco-friendly furnishings options and also that the furniture manufacturers and retailers who communicate their environmentally focused initiatives can win favor with these shoppers."
"By collaborating with Project UDesign partners for this event, the opportunity to reach a bigger audience with our sustainable furnishings message grows exponentially," added Wazirzada. "A cooperative, strategic effort that includes direct marketing and outreach in the social media space becomes even more powerful."
Criteria for the chair design includes the specification of BiOH® polyols based foam in upholstery cushions and the application of Ultrasuede® EcoDesign™ upholstery covers, which are manufactured with recycled materials in a process that both reduces energy consumption and CO2 emissions substantially.
"We think it is important to support the next generation of furniture designers who, like most of us, are concerned about sustainability. We also look forward to reviewing new ideas for the wing chair, which is one of the most dramatic and popular chair styles used in many rooms of the home," said Alex Shuford III, vice president of sales and marketing for Century Furniture.
"Style dominates the purchase decision for many consumers and interior designers, and we expect the talented students from SCAD will deliver in this area," said Cargill's Wazirzada. "Opening the voting process to the public will additionally challenge our young designers to create a wing chair that people want to buy."
Six semifinalists will be named in early September after students have completed the SCAD course, based on evaluations by a panel of industry experts. On Sept. 7, this group of designs will be displayed on BiOH® polyols various social media channels, including the ExperienceBiOH.com blog and on YouTube, where consumers can vote for their favorite, with the three finalists announced on Monday, Oct. 4 and voting continuing online through Tuesday, Oct.19.
From Oct. 15-19, during the furniture industry's fall High Point Market, designs from the three student finalists will also be displayed in Century's High Point showroom in the Historic Market Square building, where market attendees will also be invited to vote. On Wednesday, Oct. 20, all votes - online and in Century's showroom - will be tallied and the winner announced at Women In The Home Industries Today's student mentoring luncheon that day.
The competition is open to students majoring in furniture design at SCAD and will culminate in an award presentation at High Point Market during the WithIt Student Mentoring Luncheon on Oct. 20.