RISD Furniture Design | ICFF New York 2018
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International Contemporary Furniture Fair
Booth 3056
May 20 - 23, 2018
Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center
New York, NY

A studio is an exciting place to be; it’s the setting where ideas emerge from the realm of the intangible and are drawn into concrete form, enabling the activities of creative practice.


The curriculum in the Department of Furniture Design at Rhode Island School of Design affirms this kind of studio environment as fundamental to an education in art and design. Students in the Department of Furniture Design at RISD manifest their ideas about design and culture through the creation of furniture and objects. Embedded in these expressions are provocations and reactions to the greater cultural context they find themselves working in. This work is approached in a variety of ways, connected by an assertion that hands-on experimentation with materials, tools, and technologies are important ways to understand and articulate the human experience.

With projects from thirteen students including undergraduates and graduate students, and two projects from a collaborative course with the Department of Textiles, the work represented varies widely in approach and in physicality. This exhibition provides an exciting look at the issues and ideas young designers are engaged with today. Included are thoughtful variations on familiar typologies, conceptual experiments with form and materials, and new ideas about the roles useful objects can play. By definition, students are curious. This exhibition reflects a pedagogy that supports this curiosity from which inspiration, growth, and meaning can be developed.

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Maxwell McInnes BFA 2018 FD
Garden Chair
found objects, dyed expanding foam, velvet, urethane foam

Composed of four discarded Windsor chairs, Garden Chair emerged from experimentation combining found objects and castable foam. The colorful foam, artificial flowers and tufted upholstery create a somewhat grotesque, rococo setting for intimate conversation.

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Lisa Darland MA 2019 (exchange student from Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts)
Taylor Gray BFA 2018 FD
Dyget Chair
steel, wool

The Dyget Chair can be understood as an illustration of its making. On a macro level, bold bending gestures create the backrest and seating surface. At the micro scale, the textile features steel wires of varying hardness and thickness integrated into the custom hand woven surfaces. Taken as a whole, these gestures and systems yield an innovative structure that is supple and inviting.

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Walker Nosworthy BFA 2018 FD
expanded sheet metal, steel rod

A shelf constructed from expanded sheet metal, Ghost wraps a net-like framework around its hollow interior, creating an immaterial image. Iconic in form and sparse in material constitution, the varying qualities of line, volume, scale, weight, and utility contribute to the emotional presence of the object.

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Tim Miller MFA 2019 FD
Coil Bench
lacquered birch plywood, aircraft cable, steel hardware

Coil Bench is assembled from 30 repeating frames connected to form a spine which can be swung around, circled up, or shaken out into a multitude of configurations. The simple repeating shape suggests maneuverability, inviting manipulation, while its flexibility makes it suitable for a variety of spaces.

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Cecilia Plasencia MFA 2018 FD
Cuddling Concrete
dyed and cast concrete

Cuddling Concrete is a stool made up of twenty-seven unique cast parts, each contoured to match the surfaces of the adjacent pieces in the assembly. Using gravity as a connective force, form and structure are derived from individual parts nestling with one another, constructing a sturdy, harmonious whole. Disassembled, the parts have their own beauty: glossy and smooth like river rocks and with a heft that makes them soothing to hold. Tinted in a pleasing gradient of grays, the color variation by layer also serves as an assembly diagram.

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Kit Howland MFA 2019 FD
BFC (Black Fur Couch)
powder coated steel rod, synthetic fur, felt

BFC is a playful sofa that combines an orderly system of welded steel rods with irreverent, furry upholstery. It's substructure divides the form into a rectilinear matrix that is reiterated in the patterning of the cushions. Designed to activate conspicuous spaces such as nightclubs and luxury retail, the sofa appears animated and enigmatic, both when occupied and not.

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Jacob Miller BFA 2019 FD
beech, shellac, silicone spline, knit mesh

Originally conceived of as a cabinet, Ample began with an exploration stretching fabric over a frame. A beech wood skeleton is skinned with a translucent blue mesh and two portals provide access to the interior space. Although devoid of the original utility one associates with cabinetry, the transparency of the skin and the dynamic, tensile forms make for a captivating, enigmatic study of light, space, and form.

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Talia Connelly BFA 2018 TX
Shaina Tabak BFA 2018 FD
Squiggle Chair
knitted polyester and nylon, urethane foam, dacron, steel

Imagined as a three dimensional drawing, the Squiggle Chair uses the technical capabilities of industrial knitting to realize expressive notions of form and color. With a custom knitted covering of vibrant colors that fade to white to simulate reflective highlights, the chair has an asymmetrical stance and an unusual, animated quality

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Julia Steketee BFA 2018 FD
Solid Syllabary
dyed mdf, shellac, wax

Conceived of as analogous to written language, these bowls invite the user to arrange them as one might do with letters when forming a word, sentence, poem, or code. With a variety of different vessel forms, the series proposes a spatial language. With potential for stacking, aligning, and colliding, the compositions one can create share a similarity with alphabets and syntax. As bowls, they get meaning from their usage; what they contain enriches the expressive potential of the imagined language.

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Rowan Shaw-Jones BFA 2019 FD
Fraxinus nigra
dyed ash, danish cord

Following in the tradition of ladderback chairs, this chair evolves the pattern to a simpler, more compact, and lighter weight derivation. With lean proportions and a monochromatic black finish, the crispness of the lines and sturdy build make it well suited for a variety of modern interiors.

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Marc Librizzi BFA 2019 FD
Bent Tube-Wood Chair
cherry veneer, leather

Using a unique process of rolling and bending wood veneer to create hollow tubes, producing this chair has more in common with tubular steel furniture than with typical wood production methods. As the wood tubes are bent, the veneer buckles and collapses, similar to less refined bends in tubular steel. But here this is celebrated and given a place of prominence. The woven strap seat and tubular construction recalls inexpensive, commonly found chairs, but the materiality of wood and leather make for something remarkable.


One of the first colleges of its kind in the US, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) stands out as a leader in art and design education. Approximately 2,480 students from around the world are enrolled in full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in a choice of 19 majors. Students value RISD’s accomplished faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities and its hands-on approach to studio-based learning. Required courses in the liberal arts enrich the studio experience, equipping graduates to make meaningful contributions to their communities. Through their creative thinking and problem solving in a broad range of fields, RISD’s 26,000 alumni exemplify the vital role artists and designers play in fueling global innovation. Founded in 1877, RISD and the RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region.

The Department of Furniture Design educates students in a broad range of design study areas — furniture, objects, research and materials. Students develop conceptual and realization abilities by designing and building with real materials and at full scale. Through a sequenced curriculum, they investigate emerging challenges presented by new technologies, materials, and economic and ecologic conditions, along with changes in societal patterns.


organized and creative direction by assoc. professor Christopher Specce
photography by Erik Gould

For press inquiries, please contact:
Jaime Marland
RISD Public Relations


View RISD work from past ICFF exhibitions


The Narrative of Making


The featured work in both 2016 and 2017 was based on in-depth, multidisciplinary materials research, with Furniture Design students partnering with peers in Textiles to rethink the use of soft materials in furniture design. Rather than using conventional techniques to cover furniture with foam and textiles, in this work students emphasized the inherent qualities of the materials through methods based on weaving, knitting, knotting and crocheting.

View the 2017 gallery

View the 2016 gallery


Face to Face: Searching for Authentic Experiences

RISD’s contribution to the 2015 fair showcased objects that encouraged direct communication in a world dominated by electronic devices. Some of these pieces worked with technology to enrich experiences, while others formed a peaceful oasis free from technological interference. Taken as a whole, they promoted meaningful human interactions that created authentic experiences.

View the 2015 gallery