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Students Recognized in National Furniture Design Competition

chair designs

Designs from Tara Quillinan, BIND '20

Wentworth students and faculty once again collaborated with National Office Furniture for the organization’s annual Furniture Design Competition, challenging students to design and develop furniture or accessories that would allow people to be more efficient throughout their day.

Industrial Design students Tara Quillinan ’20 and Jessica Poratti ’20 took first and second place, respectively, for their designs that help students transition between a variety of spaces, including the library, classrooms, apartments, residence halls and commons areas. The competition was a part of Wentworth’s Furniture Studio class.

Quillinan designed an expandable library chair that provides an enclosed study space for one or two students working long stretches in the library or other common spaces. Poratti designed a student chair with flip top back that serves as a handy surface for a tablet or laptop.

The collaboration between National and Wentworth began about four years ago when the university hosted an open house in Watson Auditorium to showcase furnishing possibilities for the new CEIS building. National Office Furniture’s district manager, Susannah Bowers, pitched the idea of a collaborative studio for furniture design to current Department of Industrial Design Chair Derek Casio. The student competition has now been underway for three straight years.

National provides Wentworth students with fabric and other materials, as well as design advice to help students during the process. Cash prizes are also awarded to the winners of the competition.

Furniture Studio professor Bill Bancroft noted that students made a strong shift from studio work to distance learning this year, creating rigorous CAD models of the designs that could be easily printed on 3D printers at home and around Boston.

The final review culminated with an online meeting with industry professionals from National, students, faculty, and Wentworth project managers interested in optimizing student classroom and study areas. National Office Furniture representatives commented that the final chair models were thoughtfully presented and could be manufactured to industry standards.

Participating in the review were National Office Furniture representatives Angie Schuch, director of marketing; Anita Fraser, product line manager; Michelle Boolton, national A + D manager; Derek Schweikarth, industrial designer; Suzy Decker Bowers, district manager; Vanessa Englert, director of product; and Jill Kapner, creative office pavilion senior account executive; and Wentworth representatives Janine Murphy, director of project administration; Sharon Gaffney, project manager; and Ryan Neal, project assistant.

Pictured are Quillinan and her designs.

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--Bill Bancroft & Greg Abazorius