Interior architecture & product design student's chair a prizewinning seat
Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014
MANHATTAN — A versatile chair design has earned a recent Kansas State University graduate a high finish at an international furniture-making competition.
Richard Thompson, Olathe, a May 2014 master's graduate in interior architecture & product design, won second place in the commercial design division of the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta, Georgia, also known as IWF Atlanta. Thompson's winning design was for his chair called Tiki Lounge.
Thompson was among 10 interior architecture & product design graduates and students from the university's College of Architecture, Planning & Design, or APDesign, to have their furniture projects selected as finalists in the competition — accounting for one-fourth of the 40 entries in the final judging round. Along with Tiki Lounge, Thompson's Helix Spring Stool also was named a finalist.
Tiki Lounge's original concept had multiple seat settings to add to its ingenuity and appeal.
"My design started with a set of goals: to design an easy-to-produce piece with versatility in style and in seating types," Thompson said.
To address the production and versatility aspects, Thompson had to carefully choose materials to suit his chair's unique connection between its legs and seat back. This included the use of cold-rolled 1/2-inch solid steel rods for the legs and vacuum-formed 1/8-inch bendable plywood for the seat pan and seat back. It took Thompson only about three weeks to design, prototype and complete the Tiki Lounge.
While the multiple settings were included during prototyping, that part of the design was cut for the final design. Thompson said it would have thrown off the ability of the chairs to stack.
"We are very pleased to see Richard's creative work recognized in this way and to have one-quarter of the student finalist work at IWF Atlanta be from K-State," said Katherine Ankerson, professor and head of the interior architecture & product design department. "Our students learn to view design problems through multiple scale lenses, and respond to human comfort, material and connection attributes, as well as 'fit' within an environment. Richard's work is an excellent example of these parameters."
Thompson said that while the multiple-setting option did not end up working out, the chair still has some versatility options that would make it suitable for use in hospitality, restaurant, office, educational and residential settings.
"The legs can be powder coated different colors and a number of veneers can be chosen for the body to match the need," he said.
Thompson would like to continue working on his design and making improvements to move toward production. He also is interested in prototyping other seating types with the same design process.