Wilsonart selects Stephen Marchio as winner of its Student Chair Design Competition

Wilsonart, a manufacturer of decorative engineered surfaces, has chosen Stephen Marchio of the College for Creative Studies as the winner of its Student Chair Design Competition.

His design, “Prelude,” was on display along with the runners up during the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) May 14-17 in New York.

Wilsonart selected the chair for its craftsmanship and its tension between construction and deconstruction.

“The winning chair swept us off our feet,” said Wilsonart Program Director Grace Jeffers. “The slanting angles of this chair are an optical illusion, which distract us from the fact that the lines of this form are perfect right angles. It’s a visual puzzle that the judges couldn’t stop thinking about.”

Marchio with Prelude

Marchio explains that using laminate for the surface of the chair created a deeper, more intense color than could have been achieved through paint. The pastel colors of Wilsonart Laminate in Brittany Blue, Sunshine and White further emphasized the “design for delight” theme.

“Prelude’s concept is based on the idea that a maker often looks back on his or her work from years ago and can get the sense of progression,” said Marchio. “It projects into the future of a skilled designer’s life while simultaneously honoring all the little steps they took to get there.”

Each year Wilsonart Challenges is hosted at a different American Design school.

"What amazes us is how each school’s distinctive culture and approach to design unfolds throughout the project,” said Alison DeMartino, marketing communications director at Wilsonart. “The College for Creative Studies was no exception. We were captivated by the energy of rebirth in Detroit. We see it as one of the most creative places to be in the U.S. right now.”

Wilsonart sponsors the “Wilsonart Challenges” student design scholarship program to foster the careers of emerging furniture designers in North America. In its 12th year, this competition challenges students at a designated design school to create a unique chair that uses Wilsonart Laminate to answer a specific design challenge.


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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected].