RIT's Interior Design Exhibition and Merchandising studio was invited by WantedDesign and partner manufacturers to create an engaging lounge at the heart of the 2020 WantedDesign Manhattan showcase in its new home, the Javits Center, alongside the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). Using products from brands such as David Trubridge (lighting), Emeco (furniture), Ressource (paint) and Shaw Contract (materials), students custom designed a bar and cafe lounge environment for the events' visitors and exhibitors to relax and interact in.
The WantedDesign Interiors exhibition, previously held in the Terminal Stores building, is an annual program during New York Design Week — the Big Apple's yearly celebration of design that attracts hundreds of thousands. In 2018, WantedDesign invited a team of RIT Interior Design students to curate an Italian modernism-themed living space that inspired guests to uniquely experience design products. The relationship continued in 2020, and while the exhibition was canceled due to COVID-19, students' concepts were delivered online. In response to the global pandemic closing the physical show, students shifted from further developing and building a collaborative studio-wide design to proposing individual concepts.
Five students from the class (seen below) were selected to have their designs featured on WantedDesign's website. The avant-garde-themed projects were chosen based on risk-taking and storytelling merits while satisfying the design brief of highlighting manufacturing partners.
'21 (Interior Design), from Rochester, N.Y.
"It was exciting to have the opportunity to participate in WantedDesign Interiors and learn and engage with professionals, and challenge myself with an unconventional design."
This installation fills the body with utmost tranquility. Your wild imagination turns into reality. Dreams are built to fill the need of escape, finding your peace and inner bliss. Materials are explored and used in unexpected ways, creating a colorful, unconventional tactile experience.
'21 (Industrial Design), from Atlanta, Ga.
"This project was a chance to collaborate with my peers and design something real. While the pandemic interrupted our communal plans, it gave me the opportunity to realize my version of the WantedDesign Interiors experience. Participating in Design Week has been something I've wanted to do since coming to RIT — fascinated by brands, products and environments, I looked forward to getting inspiration at every corner and engaging with companies that I'd like to work with one day."
The design creates the feeling of exploring a world that is unfamiliar — the visitor is immersed in hanging panels fabric as they travel through the installation. The material's acoustic qualities create moments of stillness in an otherwise hectic soundscape. The title of the space refers to the idea of doing something when one is not physically present. Absensia creates an experience of calm that one can refer to at any point during Design Week.
'21 (Interior Design), from Reno, Nev.
"Participating in Design Week is important to me because the best way to create good design is to consume good design. I want to inspire and be inspired by other designers' work, regardless of industry, medium or exhibit size. If my work inspires someone or sparks dialogue about something, I'm happy."
The installation is an experience that focuses on shrinking and expanding sense of space through large sculptural forms, much like the changing of a sand dune through natural forces. Organic line forms within the space guide the user through active and passive activity areas, and differentiation in overhead clearances determine social and unplugged spaces.
'21 (Interior Design), from Rochester, N.Y.
"I was very excited to be attending WantedDesign Interiors because I wanted to get a first-hand look at what is happening in the world. I think it is important to stay up to date with products and designs that are out there because they can cultivate and inspire one's own designs."
The name of the exhibition experience references a desert's pockets of peace and shade, where life and water endures — an oasis. ICFF's host venue, the Javits Center, is vast and can be overwhelming, much like a desert. Oasis is meant to be a place for people to stop, rest for a moment or two and grab a beverage. It's where people can gather and converse in a space that is both aesthetically and acoustically pleasing.
'21 (Interior Design)
"This experience expanded my knowledge of global designers and their approach to design. The most exciting part of the design process was the use of the material. I used the materials in the most traditional ways — but at the same time I used them in a new traditional way (the carpet, for example)."
This space is inspired by the common practice in rural African culture of resting under trees to recharge the brain and calm one's spirits.
The Interior Design Exhibition and Merchandising class taught by Assistant Professor Mary Golden featured video meetings with WantedDesign and team collaboration before COVID-19 moved the course online. Projects by the other 15 students in the course, as well as a visual recap of the semester, can be found below.