Torrey exhibited at ICFF, winner of 2012 Wilsonart Challenge

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Eighth Annual Competition Challenged Students to Design Chairs Inspired by California’s Nature and Technology

New York, N.Y. (May 19, 2012) – Wilsonart International (, a leading manufacturer of decorative surfaces for more than 50 years, named Kaii Tu from the California College of The Arts (CCA) as the winner of its 2012 “Wilsonart Challenges…” student design competition at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF).

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Tu’s “Torrey Chair” features a fragmented geometry, rendered from multiple perspective points. Seemingly random angles of different colors of woodgrain laminate are used to simultaneously sculpt and paint the form.

High Pressure Decorative Laminate, the material required to create the chair, cannot be formed into a compound shape: while it is flexible, it can bend in only one direction, not into curvaceous forms.  Kaii Tu applied innovative engineering skill to the design to defy this rule and artfully demonstrate that an undulating, three-dimensional form can be achieved in laminate. Tu used a total of 8 wood tones and 40 separate hand-cut pieces of Wilsonart® Laminate to create the chair.

“Each year we host the “Wilsonart Challenges…” program with a different American design school,” explains Alison Pulver DeMartino, Wilsonart Director of Marketing Communications. “One thing that amazes us is how each school’s unique culture and approach to design unfolds with the project. California College of the Arts was no exception. Undercurrents of design, craft and art merge and inform throughout the students’ designs.”

CCA is the 8th school Wilsonart International has challenged to design iconic chairs using Wilsonart Laminate.  This year, students were asked to immerse themselves in the ethos of California and to examine both the state’s contribution to the man-made world and the unique phenomena of its nature.  Special consideration was given to the question “What Is California Design?” Since the mid-century, California has and continues to pioneer seminal design solutions. How can today’s students be more aware of this design legacy?

The award-winning chair and runner-up entries will be displayed during ICFF at the Wilsonart Booth #2248, as well as at NeoCon in Chicago and online at