Tech Students Create Award-Winning Furniture

Professor helps students learn intricacies of furniture design.

Georgia Tech students working in the Advanced Wood Products Lab are learning lifelong skills and creating award-winning furniture.

Students in Alan Harp's furniture design studio in the Advanced Wood Products Lab (AWPL) are producing world-class wood furniture; seven were selected as finalists in a national student furniture competition held this year in Las Vegas.

More than 220 students nationwide enter this competition, known as Fresh Wood, sponsored by AWFS machinery show. Furniture creations, ranging from modern coffe tables to antique reproductions, were judged by a diverse group of furniture industry professionals. Fifty-eight finalists were invited to bring their pieces to the show in Las Vegas for display and to attend an awards ceremony.

"I was able to have 90 percent control over what I wanted to do," said Nicholas Komor, whose oak coffee table finished in second place. "I wanted to design a coffee table, and I designed it. Professor Harp was essential in guiding the engineering of my table and I learned so much from him, but I didn't feel pressured to change what I wanted. Instead, he encouraged me to work harder and be more of a perfectionist."

The Georgia Tech students who participated in the competition were all students of Harp, who teaches furniture design at the AWPL, a research center within the College of Architecture. Of the seven Georgia Tech finalists, four were in the senior Industrial Design furniture design studio course, while the other three were taking independent study courses in furniture design.

"The most significant lesson I learned about furniture design and fabrication is the importance of planning before building," said Jessica Wood, an Industrial Design major. "It took several difficult experiences for me to learn the value of the 'measure twice, cut once' process.

"Prior to taking this course, I worked as an intern (and now work full-time) for a NASA subcontractor building full-scale mock-ups out of wood," Wood continued. "My experience as an intern really made me comfortable working around power tools, and I learned a lot about project planning."

During the awards ceremony, hosted by Richard Karn, TV's Al Borland from Tool Time, four of the Georgia Tech students received awards and cash prizes for their work. Georgia Tech not only accrued more awards than any other school, but the Institute also had more finalists than any other school in the competition. This is the third time that students from Georgia Tech have participated in this competition, and the second time that Georgia Tech students have placed.

The winners from Georgia Tech were:
Kate Schindel: Intimates Armoire: Honorable Mention: Case Goods
Jessica Wood: Walnut Miter Table and Stools: 2nd Place: Production/Contract Furniture
Katina Zachas: Aerri Dresser: Honorable Mention: Contract Furniture
Nick Komor: Unraveling Oak Coffee Table: 2nd Place: Tables

The other three students who were finalists, but who did not place, were:
Jake Tompkins: Chicken Coop Farm Table: Reproduction Furniture
Marisa Topping: Communal Dining Table: Tables
Stephanie Radbill: Regalo Ribbon Chest: Case Goods