Anne Arundel Community College student Susan Wasilewski crafted a design for a chair that a New York furniture company turned into a finished product. Someday, Wasilewski hopes to design more pieces for an entire set of furniture that might show up in showrooms worldwide.
Wasilewski, a resident of St. Michaels, saw the design claim the top prize this year at the Made: In America Washington, D.C., Furniture Design Competition. Her concept was called the PHI chair, named for an architectural-geometric term denoting balance.
Two other AACC students — Nadia D. Vemuri Cataldi of Annapolis and Brandon P. King of Deale — also took honors, but Wasilewski, on the basis of her overall score, was the only contest winner to have her design turned into a piece of furniture. New York-based furniture company Bielecky Brothers built the chair.
It was showcased along with other design entries in the Take Pride in America Celebration and Awards Ceremony on the Fourth of July at the U.S. Capitol. Last month, the chair was on display at The All-American Room showcase at the Washington Design Center.
The chair is being shown through Friday at AACC's Pascal Center for Performing Arts Gallery.
Bielecky Brothers showroom manager Anthony Melkun said on Friday that the company is considering future projects with Wasilewski. "The possibility does exist, absolutely," said Melkun.
He added that Wasilewski's the chair will be brought back to Bielecky Brothers next month and put on display in their showroom. "I thought it was great, very contemporary," said Melkun. "It was very simple, minimalistic. The side view of the chair is magnificent."
Wasilewski is looking forward to spending more time with her design.
"Since this whole thing happened, I have spent only 15 minutes with my own chair," said Wasilewski, who traveled to New York to see Bielecky Brothers craft her design into a chair. "Because of working with this company and melding what I do with what they do, the original design is not as I designed it because their materials won't work exactly as I designed it."
The three winners and five AACC classmates were enrolled in a class taught by Dimitra Tangires, an instructor in the department of architecture and interior design.
Tangires established AACC's interior design program and is credited with helping students and the program win more than 30 state and regional awards and seven national awards in eight years.
"If you can have a creative thought in your head, that's one thing; being able to explain it to someone else who isn't creative, that's a whole other thing," said Tangires. "What we as designers have to do is find the communication method.
"The hardest thing as an interior designer is to get someone to understand and have faith in what you've created," Tangires said. "Susan's design was so well thought out. Each and every element of that design had a purpose."
Made: in America, a Washington-based nonprofit educational organization, sponsored the competition for two- and four-year colleges and universities won by Wasilewski.
Cataldi designed a rocking chaise — a lounge chair — and King designed a space-saving skybox table, outdoor table and chair series.
Tangires said that the students asked organizers what they would get out of the project if their entries won.
"And the answer was, 'Instant fame,'" Tangires said. "It's an instant career. … It's pretty exciting."