4 Noteworthy Design Competitions Taking Place During the Trade Show Season

05/31/2019 By Adrian Thompson

The interior design industry is in the thick of trade show season – events like HD Expo and ICFF are now behind us while the biggest of them all, NeoCon, is quickly approaching.

Many companies and organizations take advantage of these large, high-traffic gatherings as the opportune moment to highlight initiatives, such as awards and design contests. The following are two noteworthy competitions and their results, along with a sneak peek at two upcoming contests, including a new one with interiors+sources during NeoCon 2019.

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Durkan Discovers Student Design

During the recent HD Expo in Las Vegas, Durkan announced the winners of its dscvr19 Student Design Competition. The annual hospitality design contest is sponsored each year by Durkan, the hospitality flooring brand of Mohawk Group, and NEWH, a networking organization for hospitality industry professionals.

For the competition, student designers submitted concepts for flooring in standard ballroom and pre-function settings that were created as coordinated but separate components limited to 12 colors. Submissions were reviewed by a panel of Durkan associates and judged on concept, presentation and market feasibility.


Elizabeth Hadden and her winning design

Elizabeth Hadden of Utah State University won first place with her design, Impressions of Safavid. This design’s patterns and themes take inspiration from the murals and mosaics of the Safavid era, which gloried in Persia’s ancient tradition of glazed ceramic art. In addition to winning a trip to HD Expo in Las Vegas, Hadden was honored on-site as the grand prize winner and received a $2,500 NEWH scholarship from Durkan.

Second place winner was Hannah Oelz of Savannah College of Art and Design with her design, Tides. Tides is inspired by the interplay of the ocean rising and falling over rock pools. Oelz won a $1,000 scholarship and a trip to HD Expo.


Hannah Oelz (second from left) and her second place design (below)

Heather Wilkinson of Utah State University was named second runner-up with her design, Sonoma, which was created to bring attention to the landscape of the American Southwest. She was also awarded a trip to the event.

Chairs of the Future

The 2019 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York was another event at which surface manufacturer WilsonArt announced the winners of its 15th annual student chair design competition. "The future" was the theme for this year’s competition, and entries were inspired by the students’ professional interpretations of what the future means and how it can be expressed in chair design.

A different design school hosts the challenge each year—Kent State University was the 2019 host. Students used patterns from the Wilsonart Laminate Collection and, for the first time in the competition, they were encouraged to explore the theme through parametric design and digital fabrication.

The winning chair and five runners up were debuted during ICFF. Architectural student Greg Genter won first place with his design, Assembly, which judges noted to be both art and architecture. The chair takes cues from Brutalist designs and the architectural sense of form and multi-function.

NOW OPEN: Fantini Design Challenge 2019

Water product manufacturer Fantini is hosting its third annual Fantini Design Awards. The US sector of the Italian-based company is hosting the competition to recognize excellence in kitchen and bath design throughout North America. The call for entries opened May 19, and architects, designers and developers inspired by water and who are passionate about Italian design are encouraged to submit at www.fantiniusa.com/designawards no later than July 9, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Qualifying projects should use Fantini products and must be either a completed or future project in the US or Canada. Seven winners selected by a panel of judges will receive a four-day, all-expenses-paid trip in the fall to Casa Fantini/Lake Time, the company’s exclusive resort in Pella, Italy.

SNEAK PEEK: Shine Your Shoes for NeoCon 2019

During NeoCon 2019, interiors+sources is hosting its first-ever social media competition. We want to know – when it comes to your shoes, are you going for style, comfort or both during the show? Take a break from booth browsing to stop by the Materials Pavilion lounge (7-1000) and kick back your feet.

While resting, show us your shoes with our Insta-worthy rug backdrop from Antron. Our team will be on the lookout for the most creative kicks and unique ways in which attendees manage to soothe their soles while navigating theMart’s large layout. A winner will be announced at the end of NeoCon, with a prize to follow.

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