April 24 2013

“The Wolfsonian has issued a design challenge: create a table design for the museum’s lobby. The winning table(s)—which may range from one table to six, as long as the final configuration can accommodate twenty-four chairs—will be built and used in the lobby for a year.

The reason? “We want to activate the lobby in a way that facilitates engagement and interaction between visitors and the museum. Putting this challenge out to the community is a way of relinquishing control and allowing the visitor to design the terms of engagement,” says Mylinh Trieu Nguyen, The Wolfsonian’s art director.

The challenge, titled Six Components (and a Handful of Screws) [1] is based on Thonet’s 214 chair, the iconic “coffee-house chair” that utilized a revolutionary new way of producing solid bent wood and could be easily packed flat, shipped, and assembled at its destination. The 214, introduced in 1859 and created from six components, ten screws, and two nuts, was the first flat-pack chair. Today it is the most successful mass-produced product in the world.

The design challenge requires that the table(s) accommodate twenty-four of the Thonet 214 chairs and that it use constraints similar to the chairs—that it consist of six components and a handful of screws, be easily assembled, and be made of eco-friendly sustainable materials.

Designs are due by May 17. The top twenty designs will be selected by a jury and then posted online and in the lobby for the public to vote. The winning entry will be announced on July 8, and the winner will receive a $500 honorarium.

The challenge has been publicized locally and nationally. As Nguyen explains, “We want this to be a participatory process, one that is open not only to designers and artists, but musicians, architects, writers, professors, students, etc., ultimately, anyone who is interested in creating engaging experiences. We’re very excited about the challenge and can’t wait to see the submissions.”

For more information about the challenge or to enter, visit www.wolfsonian.org/sixcomponents [2]