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ISU industrial design students recognized in AWFS Fresh Wood competition

October 01, 2015


Jonathan Manoles accepts his first-place award at the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas. Photo by Joe Coomber/AWFS.
Benjamin Pedrick accepts his honorable mention award at the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas. Photo by Joe Coomber/AWFS.

AMES, IA — Two recent Iowa State University industrial design graduates won awards over the summer for projects they completed as seniors in an advanced furniture design class last spring.

Jonathan Manoles, Chanhassen, Minnesota, received first place ($1,000) for his "Bent Lounge Chair" and Benjamin Pedrick, Slinger, Wisconsin, received an honorable mention ($250) for his "Sema Seat," both in the Post-secondary Level Design for Production category of the Association of Woodworking Furnishings and Suppliers (AWFS) 2015 Fresh Wood competition for North American students considering a career in woodworking.

The biennial event, held as part of the AWFS Fair—an international trade show featuring products and supplies for the woodworking industry—attracted 169 entries from 44 post-secondary and high schools in the United States and Canada.

The entries were judged on design innovation of original pieces or quality of execution of a known style or variation; materials choice; functionality; craftsmanship and quality of process; and aesthetic appeal and proportion.

AWFS covered the cost of shipping the entries and most travel and hotel expenses for student winners and their teachers to attend this year's fair in Las Vegas.

Seating form project
Manoles and Pedrick developed their winning projects in ArtIS 420: Advanced Furniture Design, taught by Chris Martin, associate professor of art and visual culture.

Students in this class work on either cabinet or seating forms, depending on their skill level, Martin said. Last spring he assigned a seating project using bent lamination techniques.

“It also needed to be a design that could be efficiently duplicated in production,” he said.

Martin requires students to submit projects to the AWFS competition because “it’s excellent experience for them, especially the ones who are considering making a living designing and producing furniture,” he said. “Being selected as a winner or finalist is great for their resumes, and it is great recognition for the college.”

"I think the thing that made Chris a good teacher is the same thing that made his class so helpful: he is very hands on and pushes you to take risks," Manoles said. "He has a 'yeah, try it' mentality, which I think is very important in design."

"Bent Lounge Chair" by Jonathan Manoles. Photo by George Ensley.

'Bent Lounge Chair'
Manoles built the seat back and pan of his chair with Baltic birch veneered with black walnut. He constructed the frame of half-inch cold rolled steel round bar and the feet of cast urethane rubber.

Manoles drew on the work of Ray and Charles Eames and Hans Wagner for his design, he said.

"I have always been inspired by mid-century modernism, so I wanted to create a piece that matched the aesthetic of that movement while utilizing current-day methods and technology," he said.

The biggest challenges were making the frame and applying the upholstery, he said.

A failed experiment with hot rolled steel, which is more flexible but less predictable, led Manoles to use cold rolled steel, he said.

"Also, the upholstery was difficult because the chair back was very oddly shaped and difficult to wrap, and I didn’t have any prior experience," he said.

In the end, he was most pleased with the form of the frame and how it sits, he said.

"Sema Seat" by Benjamin Pedrick. Photo by George Ensley.

'Sema Seat'
Also inspired by mid-century style, Pedrick "wanted to bring a modern touch and feel to a loveseat," he said in his project statement.

"Ben's project was all about the choice of materials he used, the treatment of the metal legs and the stitching detail in the upholstery," Martin said. "It was a clean, crisp, minimalist piece with a bold choice in the color detail."

Pedrick constructed the seat and back of Baltic birch with a black walnut veneer and gray wool upholstery. The legs and back support were made of bent and welded steel bar painted robins-egg blue. All pieces are made over the same form for simplified production.

Manoles and Pedrick both received Bachelor of Industrial Design degrees from Iowa State in May and attended the AWFS Fair in July to receive their awards.

Jonathan Manoles, Industrial Design alumnus,
Chris Martin, Art and Visual Culture, (515) 294-1639,
Jaden Urbi, Design Communications,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,