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Industrial design students take a seat at annual chair-making competition

Harmony Multani, Senior Reporter

Industrial design students Logan Smith, Tiam Morrowrogers and Ezgi Ozkut won the top prize for getting people to sit down at Humber’s 19th Annual Chair Show.

Ten chairs battled it out for the top prize at the contest held March 9 at the Barrett Centre for Technology and Innovation.

“Since a lot of our society is structured in a way where we tend to spend a lot of time in chairs, I think it’s important for buyers to know just how much thought went into the chair in terms of things like ergonomics and sustainability,” Industrial Design student Smith said.

Industrial Design student Ezgi Okut poses in the Oru, her team’s winning design submission at Humber’s 19th Annual Chair Show on March 9. (Harmony Multani)

Their winning design, Oru, had attendees lining up to test its sustainable materials, easy-to-build design and cost-effectiveness.

“We shouldn’t be wasteful and try to do some homework before purchasing a chair,” he said.

Glenn Moffatt, Humber Industrial Design instructor, said students were tasked with designing something that aligns with the visual elements of the building while accommodating student workspaces.

“We brought the students to the building, and one of the first things they realized was that there weren’t many students due to the fact that there weren’t enough study spaces here,” he said.

Around 200 guests and 11 industry judges attended the event to test the chairs built by second-year Industrial Design students.

“What we’re really looking for in the students’ chairs is something we can take to market,” said judge Lucas Spassiani, an industry professional from Borgo Contract Seating.

Spassiani’s scorecard highlighted form, materials, human centeredness, cost and ergonomics as the five areas students would be judged in, with a possible high score of 100.

“Chair design is important right now because it’s a bridge between industrial design and humanistic factors, and it’s a thing that everyone interacts with on a daily basis,” said Smith.

Other contestants also listed sustainability as the top priority of their design.

Student designer Aviraj Cheema worked with his team to build a backless chair named Endeavour, a chair that forces the user to get up and move their body from time to time.

Cheema said materials like blend plywood are one of the best bases to start with, as it is natural and biodegradable.

“Better things are coming for chairs — we now understand the long-term effects on human beings from sitting for too long. With all the knowledge we have, the industry has an obligation to implement those ideas in their designs,” Cheema said.

The event gave students the opportunity to show off their skills and ideas to the public and industry professionals.

For Moffat, it was about more than the cash prize available for the winning design.

“We ask industry professionals to judge the event because we think it’s a great opportunity for students to get their names out there, many of the judges are former students,” Moffatt said.

He said judges then follow the development of individual students who display potential.

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