Kean ID Students Win Top 3 Spots in National Design Competition


Kean University industrial design students took top honors in the national 2018 FORM Student Innovation Competition sponsored by Formica Corp.

The grand-prize winner is Rachel Marie Thompson, a senior from Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania, for her Deflextion chair. Kimberly Wheeler, a sophomore from Forked River, took second place for Carrara Bellis, and Sara Camacho, a junior from Troy, New York, took third place with her Cebra Chair. All three attend Michael Graves College at Kean.

Thompson receives a cash prize of $1,500, and her design has been fabricated and will be displayed in a free exhibition at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), where Formica is headquartered, from March 23-April 8. Wheeler receives $1,000 and Camacho $500. Renderings of Wheeler and Camacho’s designs will also be showcased at CAC. 

“Deflextion was designed to push the boundaries of how to make a solid object appear as if it is bending or curving in an unnatural way,” Thompson said. “I cannot wait to see my project come to life at the exhibition. I hope my piece helps to expose me to the design world and captures the eyes of other industrial design professionals.”

The competition holds particular sentimental value at Michael Graves College since it is a modern take on the original challenge, FORM: Contemporary Architects at Play, held 10 years ago in which Michael Graves, the namesake of the College, and nine other world-renowned architects participated.

The FORM competition challenges students to create a color rendering of something to “sit upon, lay upon, lean upon or play upon” for a commercial design, using a minimum of three Formica laminate colors or patterns. The 52 entries from design and architecture students across the U.S. were judged by some of the most well-known professionals in the design industry.

“All that matters to me is that somebody saw my design as worthy,”  Camacho said. “Up until that moment, every experience I had with furniture design was purely negative. This competition has been a light at the end of the tunnel for me. Cebra Chair was inspired by nature and how it plays with optical illusions, even within its fauna, like zebras.”

Michael Graves College Industrial Design Coordinator, Efecem Kutuk, IDSA, expects more great things from his students.

“The results of this competition demonstrate the strength of our program and the talent we have here at Kean,” said Kutuk. “It is also generating more enthusiasm, engagement and passion among the industrial design students. They are now more willing to submit ideas to more competitions like this.”

Photo Captions:

Top:  Rachel Marie Thompson, Deflextion, First Place.

Above, right: Kimberly Wheeler, Carrara Bellis, Second Place

Above, left: Sara Camacho, Cebra Chair, Third Place.

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