The University of Iowa was one of about a dozen institutions from around the world invited to exhibit in New York during a competitive 3D design showcase in May.
The International Contemporary Furniture Fair’s Schools Showcase at WantedDesign Manhattan gives talented design students a rare opportunity to present on an international stage. Twelve students from the UI School of Art and Art History, led by Vakhtangi "Vako" Darjania a lecturer in the program, showed work they had completed during their 3D design coursework.
Items ranged from contemporary furniture to unique lighting.
Katie Freeman is a first-year graduate student pursuing an MA in 3D design. She designed and printed her stool titled “Edges” during a product design course in the fall of 2022. Her work was inspired by segmented organic forms, like shellfish and insects.
She says she has had her eye on this showcase for a long time.
“Being selected for this show is a huge opportunity and I am grateful that the program selected me as one of the students to attend. Opportunities like this is one of the reasons I wanted to be part of this graduate program,” Freeman says.
Reynold Tawiah-Quashie, a graduate student from Ghana, displayed a yellow, metal fabricated lounge chair named “Surf.” It uses clean lines and angular shapes to create what he calls a bold and contemporary look. He says he feels grateful to be part of the showcase in New York and is excited to network and grow professionally during the event.
“It [the show] gave me an inside look at the furniture industry and valuable insights into the commercial aspect of furniture and design,” Tawiah-Quashie explains.
Iowa’s 3D Design Program prioritizes student participation in national and international exhibitions—strengthening student ability to present their artwork, while also exposing them to major design companies. Over the last decade, Hawkeyes have presented as near as Chicago and as far as Italy, Brazil, and Turkey.
Third-year undergraduate student Brianna Muchai says Iowa has primed her for large, international shows like the spring 2023 ICFF showcase in Manhattan.
“All we do is design, make prototypes, and talk about our process so we have been preparing for an exhibition in every single 3D design class,” Muchai explains.
In addition to the current students showing their work, two Iowa 3D design alumni, Weitong Cheng (16BFA) and Yiting Hou (21BFA) were at the showcase exhibiting designs with their employers. They were able to reunite with their alma mater while networking and showing current students where Iowa’s 3D design program can help them take.