Umbra Brings Student Designs to ICFF

Students tasked with designing for small spaces
May 16, 2017Allison Zisko

NEW YORK—Umbra and students from the Rochester Institute of Technology will bring the top 10 home designs from a recent collaborative project to International Contemporary Furniture Fair next week.

RIT’s Metaproject is an annual industrial design studio project run by Josh Owen, professor and industrial design program chair in RIT’s School of Design. It’s a semester-long course that pairs approximately 20 design students with a client for a real-life product design competition, with the goal of providing students with the resources to create a commercialized item. The students are charged with producing designs that are pragmatically understandable, as well as visually powerful and intellectually elegant. Past companies to partner with RIT include Herman Miller, Areaware, Kikkerland, The Corning Museum of Glass and Poppin.

This year, the students were tasked with designing for small spaces, creating exceptional products that embody Umbra’s ethos to make compact living more efficient and enjoyable, Umbra said. Umbra is a Canadian product design company that offers everything from furniture and wall decor to tabletop and kitchenware to storage and frames.

From August through November last year, students worked closely with designers at Umbra, taking a class trip to Umbra headquarters in Toronto to observe the Umbra Studio and Umbra Store firsthand. The students also hosted Umbra designers at RIT’s main campus in Rochester, N.Y. on numerous occasions. The resulting designs were realized as high-quality, functional prototypes.

Umbra design winnerJon Fratti’s Pop Shelf is a convenient storage space that also dampens sound.
The winning designs, judged by Matt Carr, Umbra’s vice president of design, and Mingus New, product designer at Umbra, were chosen because they are thoughtful, innovative solutions that address concerns of micro living and align with Umbra’s aesthetic. First place was awarded to Tadhg Duffy for his Popup Room Divider, with second place going to Vincent Lin for his Buoyancy Paper Towel Holder and third place to Mick Bartholomew for his Waver Basket.

ICFF takes place at the Javits Center here May 21-24.

Allison ZiskoAllison Zisko | Managing Editor/Tabletop Editor

After 15 years of covering the tabletop industry, Allison Zisko is still as enthusiastic as ever about the dinnerware, glassware and flatware categories. An in-depth analysis of how the category works intrigues her just as much as the latest fashion trends. As managing editor, Allison oversees the daily e-newsletter and works behind the scenes to help produce the print issue each month. She also directs HFN’s housewares coverage and covers the cutlery category. An avid reader, Allison is eager to talk to anyone and everyone about the latest book they are reading.


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