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K-State Today

Division of Communications and Marketing
Kansas State University
128 Dole Hall
1525 Mid-Campus Drive North
Manhattan, KS 66506

January 30, 2023

APDesign students earn honors in Steelcase NEXT design competition

Submitted by Thom Jackson

Henry Hammes, Lenexa, and Christa Gorman, Irving, Texas, both fourth-year graduate students in interior architecture in the  College of Architecture, Planning & Design, or APDesign, received honors in the 2023 NEXT competition sponsored by Steelcase.

Now in its 10th year, more than 1,260 students from all over the country competed, with 77 interior design programs and 96 professors participating. Steelcase narrowed down entries to five semifinalists and five honorable mentions. Hammes is a semifinalist who will compete in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the final winning project. Gorman received an honorable mention for her work.

Michelle Wempe, professor of practice in the department of  interior architecture & industrial design,  challenged students to design a new office space in Boston's Seaport District for a leading global consumer robotics company that creates innovative smart home electronics and appliances to improve everyday living.

Hammes' approach to the stated project was centered around public transportation and how it brings together a diverse cross-section of a city's population. View Hammes' project.

"The rigor and creativity Henry brings to bear in his work are impressive, and his ability to drill down and solve for the small details helps to bring his conceptual work together into a refined solution," Wempe said.

Gorman's concept compared the hybrid work environment to the marine life living in the ocean adjacent to the project site. View Gorman's project

"Her concept, graphic approach and final solution incorporated a unique look at the corporate office environment," Wempe said. 

"Christa and Henry's projects represent the incredible creativity and human-centered design principles we pride ourselves on. Each has inventively answered the project brief brilliantly," said Nathan Howe, interior architecture and industrial design department head. "Our students never cease to amaze me. The competition seems fiercer every year, and our students continue to be honored as the top of the top. This is a testament to our students, faculty, and curriculum."

Henry is currently studying abroad in Orvieto, Italy, and will be flown along with the other semifinalists to the Steelcase headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in February, where they will present their projects to the panel of judges who will select an overall winner. The winner will be announced on Friday, Feb. 24, and all five of their projects, from 2022, will be loaded onto the Steelcase NEXT website soon after the announcement.

The competition's judges include Ashley Engle, Steelcase, Austin, Texas; Bob Varga, SmithGroup, Detroit, Michigan; Diana Pisone, Stantec, Chicago, Illinois; Jennifer Tart Thompson, Corgan, Austin, Texas; Laura Duenas, Perkins&Will, Boston, Massachusetts; Matt LoPresto, IA Interior Architects, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Sarah Doriani, Lamar Johnson Collaborative, St. Louis, Missouri.

Steelcase offers a wide range of architecture, furniture and technology products and services designed to help people reach their full potential. Their comprehensive portfolio is anchored by three core brands: Steelcase, Coalesse and Turnstone. Together with their partners, they design spaces to help people work, learn and heal.