Now that The People’s Sofa Contest is over, and the winners have been announced, we thought we’d take a closer look at our two winning designers, and learn more about them.
1. How did you hear about The People’s Sofa Contest? What made you enter?
Mike: I heard about The People’s Sofa Contest through a school news letter. The prospect of being able to have one of my ideas become something that people could actually own was really amazing to me. I really like the thought of people lounging about and spending lazy Sundays comfortably reading on an Egan sofa.
Danny: I actually stumbled upon The People’s Sofa Contest while looking for furniture for a project I was working on. I always have my eyes peeled for fun contests that are open to all types of people and free to enter. In college, I participated in a snowman-making contest with my roommate and also a mock iron chef competition. So I thought it might be interesting to give the sofa contest a go. What made me decide on entering was the fact that there were virtually no parameters and every design would be 100% conceptual. That allows for more freedom with ideas and creativity. I also wanted to show that no matter what his or her profession may be, anyone is capable of coming up with an amazing design given a chance and the tools to do so. It also doesn’t hurt that I am also a competitive person. That was a bonus reason for entering.
2. What’s your design background?
Danny: My relationship with art and design started at an early age. I graduated from Rutgers University in 2012 with a degree in Landscape Architecture. Prior to that, I attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in Manhattan as a fine arts major. In middle school, I was also a fine arts major. And in elementary school, I joined the art club on the recommendation of my art teacher. Throughout the years, I transitioned from creating art to creating design. It was tricky because whereas art can be left for interpretation, design is meant to be understood. Great art is a taste while great design is an opinion. Art is talent while design is a skill. So essentially, in design, there is no perfection. I find that fascinating and that is why I love what I do.
Mike: My original background is in Mechanical Engineering. I got a bachelor’s and masters degree in engineering from Cornell before going to work for the Leathers & Associates playground design firm for a few years. It was there that I fell in love with design and decided to go back to school. I then got my Masters of Design in Designed Objects from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. After graduating I have been working in Chicago.
3. Is your career currently in design? If not, what’s your current gig?
Mike: I am currently working for Boschwerks innovation group. It’s a small design consultancy based out of downtown Chicago.
Danny: I am currently a Junior Landscape Architect working in an Architecture, Interior, and Landscape design firm located in New York City. My ultimate goal is to receive my Landscape Architecture license, join the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and contribute to the city I love.
4. What advice would you give to people who want to go into designing furniture?
Danny: I think my advice would be to work on and develop a personal style. When designing, go with your gut design. Then refine based on parameters. Don’t go into a design thinking that an idea will fail. For all you know, it might just work out in the end. Also, history and inspiration is extremely important. You want to be able to know what has been done and what you can do to transform certain designs to be even better. As for inspiration, get out there, and take a look around. Many of my inspirations come from objects and structures completely not related to my field. I just take them and try to apply it to an idea. Stay true to yourself!
Mike: Just think about your favorite pieces of furniture. What exactly is it that makes them so great? Perhaps they are stylish, or really comfortable. Once you know what it is that really draws you to certain types of furniture, expand upon that. Think about how you could take your favorite furniture and make it even better.
5. What’s something else from the Viesso site that you’d love to own?
Mike: I really love the periodic coffee table. As someone with a technical background, the periodic table definitely strikes a chord with me. I also really like concrete as a design material. It’s a nice playful piece and it feels like you would always have a conversation starter.
Danny: One product that I would love to own from Viesso would be the Worth Bed, with Wenge/White Leather as my color option. I love the low profile and the connected nightstands. The combination of materials really work well together. It’s sleek, modern and provides great character to any bedroom.
Let’s take one more look at the two winning sofa designs:
top: winning design by Danny Su / bottom: winning design by Mike Egan
Thanks so much for your great thoughts, Danny and Mike! We can’t wait to have your designs as part of our permanent collection. Did you miss The People’s Sofa Contest? Make sure to like us on Facebook to keep up to date with all of our contests, promotions, and exciting announcements!