Furniture Design Competition

For me product design has always been an interest. I love designing things on a small scale and thinking through all the specific parts and pieces. Looking back, if I knew what I knew now I would have probably gone into product design instead of Interior Design. But luckily most of the guiding design principles cross over between disciplines and as an interior Designer, I often get to design my own furniture for projects. Most often I will see something I like and then tweak it in a different way to meet the specific project’s need. But then there are times when I create an original piece, but we usually don’t have time for that process. So when IIDA (International Interior Design Association) announced a competition to design some pieces of furniture, I jumped at the chance to do something that could be built without project strings attached and maybe lead into some contacts for doing more original design.

These were the pieces I entered into the competition. They were inspired by tall, lean and young Italian white collar business men – dressed to the nines with style and flashes of color:

OTTO-02 OTTO-03.jpg smalller file tableA.jpg smaller file tableB.jpg smaller file tableC.jpg smaller file


Below are some of the many pages of preliminary sketches that I took and developed into concept drawings. I then selected the product finishes. Once the ideas were in place, FFKR Architects as my sponsor donated some rendering hours by a couple of our 3D rendering gurus. I think they did an amazing job – though I don’t like to tell them that TOO much. I say that in jest, because they are full of it, and always take any chance they get to lay it on thick…and they especially like to give me a bad time!

Sketch 1 sketch 2

Well, after weeks of waiting, I got the letter below telling me I didn’t make the cut. Of course I was a little bummed that I didn’t get a top honor and get to fly to Italy to have the pieces produced…who wouldn’t be!… but I don’t regret entering. Any opportunity to keep my creative juices in action is a good thing. Plus losses in life make the wins that much sweeter!


Dear Mark,

Thank you for your participation in theinaugural 2013 Emerge Italy Product Design Competition.

The judges felt “there was an evident sense of material sophistication in the entries that conveyed an international sensibility.”

Although your product was not selected as one of the award winners this year, the jury recognizes the time and effort required to participate in the competition. Please convey IIDA’s appreciation to the members of your firm who contributed to the design of the product. 

The winning products along with the 2013 Best of Competition winner will be announced and celebrated at a presentation during the 2013 Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan. All award winners will be posted the week of April 15 on the IIDA website.

On behalf of IIDA, Ministry of Economic Development and FederlegnoArredo, we thank you for participating in this year’s competition and we look forward to working with you in the future.




Anyway, I went into detail about the rendering guys above so you could see how they took advantage of my woes and kicked me when I was down! Mental note…never send anything to a professional renderer that can be touched up or changed by Adobe photoshop!



Dear Shane,

Thank you for your participation in the inaugural 2013 Emerge Italy Product Design Competition.

 The judges, “couldn’t believe the crap they saw from other participants.”

Your product was selected as the 2013 Best of Competition Winner of the Year.  The jury would like to recognize your obvious attention to detail in capturing the essence of what this competition is all about. Please convey IIDA’s appreciation to the members of your firm who contributed to the design of the product.  Thank you for allowing this competition to not be a complete waste of time for our distinguished judges.  You really saved my …





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