Cal Poly Architecture Senior Rethinks Love Seat to Win 16th Annual Vellum/CAED Furniture Design

The competition attracted more than 200 student furniture entries, including tables, chairs, light fixtures, and other furniture design solutions

SAN LUIS OBISPO — An architecture senior from Pacific Palisades won the top prize at the 16th annual Vellum/CAED Furniture Design Exhibition in The Creamery in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Lena Vogler received the Space Architects’ Milano Grand Prize, for her entry, Rollplay, an adjustable loveseat. She will get an all-expenses paid trip to Milan, Italy, in April for the Salone International del Mobile — the world’s largest trade fair that annually showcases the latest in furniture and design from countries around the globe.

Vogler edged out more than 200 projects that ranged from tables and chairs to light fixtures, toys and other furniture design solutions.

“I’m so honored that the judges chose my piece,” Vogel said. “There were so many fantastic entries that (the winner) could have been anyone, really.”

This 16th edition was the largest Vellum Furniture Competition to date. Vellum Design Build, a San Luis Obispo design-and-build firm, and the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Cal Poly teamed up to sponsor the annual two-day competition that asks students to conceive and construct projects that range from tables and chairs to light fixtures, toys and other furniture design solutions.

“Vellum provides a true life-test case employing real budgets, real materials, real engagement with suppliers, fabricators and manufacturers plus real design timelines and construction schedules not typically incorporated into academic enterprise,” said co-organizer Tom di Santo, a faculty member in Cal Poly’s Architecture Department, of the competition that was judged Nov. 1.

Designs had to be original and fabricated by each student or team of students. Their projects were judged on function, individuality and beauty by a panel of experts.

Vogler’s design is “a reinterpretation of the loveseat.” It featured a handful of polygonal upholstered cushions linked by custom pivot hinges that ride atop castors to allow the loveseat to be easily reconfigured.

“The way that the Roman Forum acted as a public location for social and political discussion, the couch acts as a forum in the context of the home,” said the 22-year-old, who will graduate in June. “It’s often the center of conversation during social events. My issue with the loveseat is that it’s become a misnomer for an awkwardly small couch. Originally it was designed to give men and women the opportunity to talk openly during an era when that wasn’t typically accepted.

“Rethinking the form so that two people can reposition themselves and the cushions makes it not only a more comfortable experience but more applicable to generating conversation.”

Vogler said it took two weeks to design the piece and another two to build it. She fabricated all the elements and learned to sew the cushions after watching several YouTube videos using her grandmother’s borrowed sewing machine.

Other awardees include:
- James Du Prey with the Dr. Daniel Lewis Cradle 2 Cradle Award for the most sustainably crafted piece, for a glass-top coffee table supported by components from a car’s front axle and a wood and metal base.
- Joseph Padayachee with the RRM: 100% Pure Award, for a free-form honeycomb lamp entry, which as fully designed and fabricated by the individual.
- Andrew Stratford with the Withco: Modern Master Award, for his three-legged lamp in a design that most closely aligns with the ideals of the Modern Furniture Movement in America.
- Varun Maniar with the ga+dAward for a unique armchair, with the seat and arms fashioned from a single sheet of curved and crafted metal that was supported by four metal legs.
- Hannah McKay with the DRD: Special Timber Award, for the best use of wood in her metal and wood lamp entry.
- Kev Vanderzel and Lindsay Eklund with the Flux Book Design awards; Vanderzel for his metal barstool with backrest and Eklund’s unusual spiked wood bench design with an oval seat for one.
- Vanderzel, who also received for the Vellum Prize for a wood and metal bench.
- Aiden Marvick’s steel-legged wine bar for the People’s Choice award and an Honorable Mention from the jury; the surfboard-shaped tabletop was made from strips of different woods.
- Other Honorable Mention awards for Ethan Scofield, Dana Cameron, Riley Brant, Jennifer Mahan, Layla Tahan, Andrew Kwak, Luany Leone-Albarracin, Cesar Hernandez, Katie Kelleher, Courtney Petrella and Elliot Robinson.

The Vellum competition began in 2004 as a way to inspire creative thought and challenge participants to press the boundaries of design, while offering a tangible experience and exposure to industry professionals.

The competition seeks to not only celebrate the students’ work but also serve as a bridge between the Cal Poly student community and the larger community of San Luis Obispo, di Santo added.

This year’s competition was held at The Creamery Marketplace, 570 Higuera St. A reception and judging was held Nov. 1; entries remained on display through Nov. 2.

The judges included: Monica Oller and Tom Pejic, architects and product designers from Los Angeles; Nitsan Yomtov, a designer from the Pacific Northwest who, as a Cal Poly undergraduate in 2005, was the grand prize winner at the second annual Vellum competition; Silvia Manca, an Italian architect working as a senior designer and project manager for SPaCe Architecture (with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Milan, Miami and Toronto); Beate Von Bischopinck, a German architect and lecturer in Cal Poly’s City and Regional Planning Department; and Pepe Sanchez, designer and steel fabricator for San Luis Obispo-based Deadwood Revival Design.

For more information on Vellum visit:

Contact: Tom Di Santo

November 18, 2019

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