Congratulations Claire Christianson! Claire is the winner of the Student Design Challenge #ThinkOutside, Cooper Hewitt’s first-ever nationwide competition for high-school students.
Launched in January 2016 in collaboration with Target, the competition garnered hundreds of submissions from 19 states across the U.S. Students were challenged to design an outdoor chair for Cooper Hewitt’s garden that is functional, comfortable, and unexpected—and inspired by an object from the museum’s world-renowned collection.
For her winning design, Christianson, who hails from Wayzata, Minnesota, and is a sophomore at Providence Academy, chose as her inspiration object a painted porcelain art nouveau vase. Christianson explained, “I was inspired by the media of the art nouveau vase. My chair’s form was taken from the tons of little ribbons of clay trimmings that the potter cut off in pursuit of his masterpiece.”
To conclude the competition, Christianson and her fellow finalists Lauren Schrempp (New York), Valerie Taranto (New Jersey), Ryan Thompson (Illinois), and Tanner Wall (Florida), traveled to New York to participate in a design workshop at Cooper Hewitt with members of Target’s design team and museum educators. On Sunday, April 3, the finalists presented his or her design in person to the judges.
Cooper Hewitt director Caroline Baumann was joined by a panel of creative experts to evaluate the finalists’ designs, including National Design Award winner Walter Hood, principal and founder, Hood Design; Steven Keating, head of Performance Footwear Design, PUMA; Rachel Shechtman, founder, STORY; Tana Smith, YouTube star “TanaMontana100” and author; Todd Waterbury, chief creative officer, Target; and Tony Whitfield, associate professor of Art and Design, Parsons School of Design. Susanna Sirefman, president of Dovetail Design Strategists and Competition Advisor for the Challenge moderated the panel’s deliberations.
“All the finalists’ designs were outstanding—the five students are all winners,” said Baumann, “Claire’s design reflects such a thoughtful parallel to the object of inspiration from the museum’s collection and she articulated her detailed design process very clearly. The chair will be an exciting addition to the contemporary and minimalist aesthetic of the renewed Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden. Bravo Claire!”
In mid-May, Christianson will travel to Target’s headquarters in Minneapolis, where she will see firsthand the prototyping and manufacturing process for her winning design.
Target will produce seven limited-edition chairs—five will be installed in Cooper Hewitt’s Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden and unveiled during National Design Week from October 15–23 with Christianson in attendance. Also, Christianson will receive two of the limited-edition chairs.