31 January 2011

Two good chairs from Las Vegas

Two chairs were named winners in the third annual “One Good Chair” competition, sponsored by World Market Center Las Vegas and the Sustainable Furnishings Council. An awards ceremony was held Jan. 26 at World Market Center.

Eric Tong and his Zpine chair
Eric Tong’s Zpine chair received the grand prize and Juan Mercado’s RE_Flex chair won in the People’s Choice category.

The grand prize winner, Tong, from London, England, created his chair using a honeycomb core (also known as “cellular structure”). The piece converts seamlessly between a chair and a chaise, collapsing with ease. Tong said he chose honeycomb for its magnificent strength-to-weight ratio and because it’s inexpensive, sustainable and biodegradable. He received a $4,500 cash prize that he says he will apply towards the manufacturing and marketing of the chair.

Juan Mercado and his RE_FLEX chair
Juan Mercado of Jackson, Mich.,  created his chair from a standard 4-by-8-inch wood sheet. The chair can be used as a sleek modern desk chair or a comfortable reading/rocking chair, depending on the owner’s mood. Its design is simple yet sophisticated, and requires minimal packaging and space for shipping.

The goals of the competition revolved around minimizing material, production, shipping and assembly while maximizing comfort, utility, durability and beauty. Sustainable Furnishings Council members, including The Phillips Collection and Handy Living, created prototypes of some of the finalists’ designs. More than 360 participants submitted entries in the competition, representing both professional and amateur designers. Five finalists mastered the seeming paradoxical challenge of celebrating abundance while doing more with less.

The final jury included television host, writer and producer Sarah Backhouse of “Planet 100” on the Discovery Network’s Planet Green, Shashi Caan of Shashi Caan Collective, Kira Gould, director of communications with William McDonough + Partners and Zem Joaquin, founder and CEO of ecofabulous, the online source for the “well-lived eco-life.” The jury selected the grand prize, or “Judges’ Choice” winner, while the public voted for People’s Choice.

Other finalists for the competition include the following:
  • Helena Bueno, Brazil, Broom Chair: This simple yet whimsical chair is made from nine sticks of birch wood that fit easily into a bright plastic seat. It’s playful, yet remarkably efficient to mount and collapse—all of the sticks can be removed and requires no glue, nails, screws or metal components.
  • Tom Fereday, Australia, Allt Chair: This linear-framed chair is reminiscent of classic handcrafted Danish furniture, with a mesh and fastening system that are 100 percent contemporary. Made from recyclable birch plywood and stainless steel components, the chair uses non-permanent fasteners and can easily be disassembled, reducing its environmental footprint on a number of levels, from beginning to end.
  • Klaus Peter Berkemeyer, Germany, ELXE: Elegance meets functionality in the ELXE. The backrest and seat are made of two molded wooden shelves, which merge with two wooden legs that also form the armrests. With two light front legs of stainless steel, ELXE can be dismantled into just four components for easy moving or storage.

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