The judges for this year’s DWR Champagne Chair Contest were DWR Founder Rob Forbes, designer Lucia DeRespinis and the founders of Egg Collective, Stephanie Beamer, Crystal Ellis and Hillary Petrie. Now, meet the winners:
Congratulations to our First Place winner, the Crescent Chair by Bruce Hirschman. A big thank you goes out to Hirschman’s wife who told him about the contest after seeing it in the DWR Catalog.
Inspired by the natural shape of the cork, Hirschman kept his design to one material but employed many tools, including a jeweler’s saw, X-Acto knife, drill press, grinding burrs and belt sander. Figuring out how to shape cork was his biggest challenge. “It’s not the easiest of materials,” he said. “My process was the traditional sculpture method: just remove everything that is not the sculpture.”
The judges were drawn to the chair’s simplicity and beautiful shape. “I’ve never seen a chair like this,” Forbes said. “It’s so friendly, like a koala bear.” Petrie of Egg Collective praised the chair for its high level of craftsmanship, and DeRespinis noted that the chair “is as much about subtraction as it is about addition.”
A fountain-pen maker by trade, Hirschman is responsible for designing pens and precise machining. His favorite buildings include the Chrysler Building, Falling Water and Notre Dame Cathedral. He’s a huge fan of the Womb Chair by Eero Saarinen, and he owns an early Coconut Chair by George Nelson.
When we told Hirschman that he won, he responded: “Let’s see if my Powerball ticket for tonight has the same good fortune.” Unfortunately, that $564 million prize went to someone else, but he is the winner of a $1,000 DWR Gift Card.
Second place goes to the Bubbly Chair by Zach Martin. Like all three of our winners, this was Martin’s first time entering the contest. His tools included cutters, a little saw and super glue, and his greatest challenge was getting the legs and back to look straight while also being wavy.
Those wavy elements earned his chair the nickname “Memphis” from the judges, who compared it to the work of the Memphis Group. There was some debate over whether the chair would be comfortable to sit in, but DeRespinis said she’d like to have a set of them for her dining room.
Third place is the Piper Beach Chair by Jeffrey Burke Whitten. Whitten almost missed the entry deadline. “I had designed and built a completely different chair on the last day of the contest but decided I wasn’t happy with it,” he said. “I didn’t have time to drink two more bottles of champagne, so I dismantled it and used the same materials to build the Piper Beach Chair.”
The judges praised the chair for its geometry, wit and use of graphics. “Having grown up on the beach, I’m a fan of folding chairs,” Forbes said, “and my only complaint about this chair is that I wish it folded.”
Whitten’s tools were a needle-nose pliers and scissors, and the inspiration for his comfortable-looking chair was the thought of sipping champagne at a beach resort in the South of France. We suggest that he take a break from his job as an identity consultant and treat himself to such a trip to find ideas for next year’s contest.
Congratulations to our winners and to everyone who entered this year’s Champagne Chair Contest. Cheers!