Iowa State University
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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

09-25-06

Contacts:

Dean Vande Griend, Iowa State student, (515) 460-2064, dmvg@iastate.edu

Dan Kuester, News Service, (515) 294-0704, kuester@iastate.edu

Movie malfunction leads to award-winning design for ISU student

AMES, Iowa -- When Iowa State junior Dean Vande Griend sat down to watch a movie at his grandma's house, he thought he was in for a few hours that didn't involve school or work.

Dean Vande Griend

Dean Vande Griend

As luck would have it, the movie DVD malfunctioned in his player, and the picture on his television became pixilated with many little squares. That malfunction led to a moment of inspiration for the fine arts major from Hull, Iowa.

Who would have guessed that the film, "The Neverending Story," would lead to a first place award at the world's largest trade show for the woodworking industry, the International Woodworking Fair, in Atlanta last month.

"The idea was that [the table] was supposed to be deleted from one end to the next, just like the picture on the television," said Vande Griend.

The maple coffee table impressed the judges because the piece "was well thought out, well constructed and not like anything else they'd seen before," said Vande Griend.

The biannual fair had entrants from 46 schools around the country who sent hundreds of photo entries, from which 75 finalists were chosen. Vande Griend's coffee table, and a sofa table he designed and built, both survived the first round, and he was invited to bring his furniture to Atlanta for the finals. He won first place for the coffee table in the Creative category and won a Merit (second place) in the Case category for a sofa table.

The modest furniture builder was surprised by the honors.

"I thought I'd do all right, but I did better than I expected," he said.

While Vande Griend didn't expect the honors, his faculty advisor knows that the student has much talent.

"Dean is an extremely good and disciplined [furniture] maker, and he has the potential to be one of the best students to graduate from this program," said Chris Martin, an associate professor of wood and furniture design.

"I am really looking forward to working with him and then seeing where he goes after that," Martin said.

Vande Griend is unsure what his future plans are, but seems to have an entrepreneurial spirit.

"I'd like to start my own shop or business," Vande Griend said. "Or work at a saw mill or lumber yard that would allow me to build furniture."

Vande Griend is the first Iowa State student to win a first at the prestigious International Woodworkers Fair, which attracts the best young designers in the world, said Martin.

Another Iowa State student, Brian Laskowski, had two pieces of furniture make it through to the finals, but did not place in the top three in his categories.

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Quote

"Dean is an extremely good and disciplined [furniture] maker, and he has the potential to be one of the best students to graduate from this program."

Chris Martin, associate professor of wood and furniture design