KINGSPORT, Tenn. – Twelve talented furniture design students from Appalachian State University recently competed for prizes and shared their work on a national stage at High Point Market after being chosen finalists in the Perennial Wood Appalachian State Design Studio. This week, two students received top honors as winners of the Grand Prize and the People’s Choice award. These students, along with several of the other finalists, will display their furniture at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York, May 19-22, 2012 (booth #2162).

The students used Perennial Wood in their designs – a new material being introduced to the outdoor furniture market this spring. Sourced and manufactured in the U.S., Perennial Wood is real wood that has been modified on the molecular level to protect against rot, decay and movement. Withstanding moisture and outdoor elements for decades, it competes with hardwoods, rivaling teak in both beauty and performance. Eastman, the manufacturer of Perennial Wood, sponsored the design studio.

Michael DeMarco from Charlotte, N.C. won the Grand Prize for his furniture piece he titled the Strangler Floor Lamp. Chosen by a panel of experts from Eastman and Appalachian State University, DeMarco’s lamp was chosen for exemplary design approach, use of medium (Perennial Wood and other materials), and its purpose, usefulness and aesthetics. According to DeMarco, “The most valuable part of this design studio experience was everything – from learning about and designing with a new material, to learning the process of designing and building.”

As the Grand Prize winner, DeMarco will receive a professionally produced video of his furniture project for inclusion in his portfolio and on the Eastman Innovation Lab website, a resource for industrial designers and marketers featuring success stories about using materials to differentiate products for better results.

The People’s Choice award was earned by Derek Elliott from Cary, N.C. for his furniture piece titled the Patio Chaise, which garnered the most crowd-sourced public votes via Facebook likes, Twitter tweets and Pinterest pins. “I enjoyed being a part of the launch of Perennial Wood, and watching a groundbreaking new product hit the market.”

In acknowledgement of the People’s Choice award, Elliott’s Patio Chaise is receiving public recognition online at the design studio’s official webpage and via social media, in addition to being displayed at ICFF in May.

“These furniture design students were instrumental in contributing to an important product launch for us,” said Brant Mitchell, market development manager for Eastman and Perennial Wood. “Through the design studio, they were among the first to integrate Perennial Wood into outdoor furniture pieces, proving themselves as designers and skilled craftsman. We are delighted with the results of their creativity and hard work.”

Speaking on behalf of all the faculty and staff at Appalachian State University, professors Kern Maass and Richard Prisco extended congratulations to the two prize winners and the finalists, as well as recognized all the students who participated in the design studio. “These students are the future of furniture design in our country,” said Prisco. “The design studio with Perennial Wood gave our students many opportunities to push their personal boundaries and discover first-hand what’s possible when given a new material and a challenge.”

Eastman is accepting inquiries from furniture manufacturers interested in incorporating Perennial Wood into their offerings. Inquiries may be directed to Perennial Wood offers furniture manufacturers a long-lasting attractive, U.S.-sourced wood for their furniture lines.

The Grand Prize was awarded to Michael DeMarco from Charlotte, N.C. for his furniture piece titled the Strangler Floor Lamp (left), and the People’s Choice award was earned by Derek Elliott from Cary, N.C. for his furniture piece titled the Patio Chaise (right). Note: click and save photos above for high res images.

Source: Eastman

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