Annette Hacker, director,
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Andrew Kopp, Senior, Integrated Studio Arts, (319) 389-5558, email@example.com
Lori Maupins, International Woodworking Fair, (404) 693-8333, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778, firstname.lastname@example.org
Iowa State senior wins Best of Show in premier furniture design competition for students
Andrew Kopp won Best of Show for his "Concept Bench" at the nation's premier furniture design competition for students. (Downloadable photo by Bob Elbert).
AMES, Iowa -- This has been an exceptional year for Andrew Kopp.
The Iowa State University senior's furniture designs have earned accolades wherever he goes. Most recently, at the International Woodworking Fair (IWF) in Atlanta, Kopp won Best of Show in Design Emphasis '08. Held biannually at the IWF, it is the nation's foremost furniture design competition for students.
Kopp's string of successes began last February, when his oak and maple sofa table, "Two-Tone Mantis," took second place in the 2008 BFA Annual Juried Student Exhibition at the ISU College of Design. In June, Kopp, a double major in studio arts and business management from Solon, was one of 24 Emerging Iowa Artists at the Des Moines Arts Festival.
But winning Best of Show for creating the outstanding furniture piece in Design Emphasis is as good as it gets for a furniture design student. And it carries a $2,000 prize and a trophy.
The Design Emphasis '08 competition attracted nearly 300 entries from 37 schools around the country. Seventy-five entries by 64 students were named as finalists. Of those, three were from Iowa State (see sidebar).
Kopp's winning entry, "Concept Bench," is made of hard maple and Crypton Super Fabric, a new stain-and liquid-resistant material that holds up well to wear. He drew inspiration for the bench's wood frame from his "Two-Tone Mantis" table and from various concept cars, and for the upholstery from a wingback chair by Alphonse Mattia, one of the country's leading studio furniture makers.
"When initially designed by an artist, a product is often futuristic-looking, but by the time it rolls off the assembly line, it's generic again," Kopp said. "With this bench, I wanted to capture my original design concept before I altered it too much for the manufacturing process."
Entries were judged on design, manufacturing, marketability and workmanship. Kopp's bench was the standout in every area, according to Max Shangle, chair of the furniture design program at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Grand Rapids, Mich. Shangle served as one of nine judges for the Design Emphasis '08 competition.
"I've been involved with Design Emphasis for a number of years, and overall the quality of the entries this year was better," Shangle said. "The designs showed greater understanding and sophistication of design for both production and for the market."
Even so, he said, "it wasn't hard to say that Andrew's piece was going to be Best of Show.
"His craftsmanship was excellent, the piece was beautifully executed, and one could read into the object a very strong understanding of what it would take to produce that piece. The quality of craftsmanship and thoughtfulness of execution distinguished it amongst its peers in its own right," Shangle said. "Then when one looked at the design -- its scale, its proportion, its visual integrity -- this again distinguished the piece from its peers.
"Best of Show is a benchmark piece; it sets the standard for every other category and every other entrant to meet the objectives of the competition better than anyone else, and Andrew's piece did that. It sets the standard for competitions to come," he said.
This is Kopp's first time entering the Design Emphasis competition. His honors over the past year, culminating in the Best of Show award, suggest that his talent is maturing as he nears the end of his degree program.
"Andrew is one of the more talented students to go through our program," said Chris Martin, associate professor of art and design. "His work is very insightful and well executed. I look forward to watching him and his work continue to grow."
Kopp will receive his bachelor of fine arts degree from Iowa State in May. He plans to attend graduate school and would like to follow Martin's example by teaching wood design and starting his own studio one day.
Three ISU student finalists
Two of Andrew Kopp's Iowa State classmates were named finalists in Design Emphasis '08, the nation's leading furniture design competition for students: James Ian Killinger, who graduated in May with bachelor's degrees in art and design and psychology, and Ryan Seiler, a senior in studio arts from Ames.
Killinger's entry, "Kersplat," is a coffee table intended to capture motion in a moment of time. The base, made of shaped poplar painted a bright glossy red, is highlighted by an oval glass top. He was a finalist in the Design Creativity category.
Seiler's piece, "Pierced Coffee Table," is mahogany outlined with black milk paint and finished with a linseed-oil mixture. The pierced pattern references the half-tone imagery of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and loosely represents an aerial view of the lake his grandfather lived on. Seiler was a finalist in the Occasional Furniture category.
"Being a finalist is a very big deal," said Max Shangle, chair of the furniture design program at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Grand Rapids, Mich. Shangle served as one of nine judges for the competition.
"When you have 300 applicants go through the prescreening process, you know that the pieces that made it to the exhibition already met a very high standard. It's really an honor for the program at Iowa State to have three students selected as finalists," Shangle said.
Coffee tables by ISU students James Ian Killinger (above) and Ryan Seiler were finalists in the competition. (Photos by George Ensley).
Iowa State senior Andrew Kopp's bench won Best of Show in the International Woodworking Fair's Design Emphasis '08, considered the nation's premier furniture design competition for students. Two of his classmates--Ryan Seiler and James Ian Killinger--were finalists.
"Best of Show is a benchmark piece; it sets the standard for every other category and every other entrant to meet the objectives of the competition better than anyone else, and Andrew's piece did that. It sets the standard for competitions to come."
Max Shangle, competition judge