Student invited to show work at global design fair

Trent Podskalan

A Northern Michigan University art and design student recently had the honor of having a table and chair design that he created displayed in a New York exhibit.

Senior furniture design major Brendan Solinsky was one of 12 students selected from across the country to have his furniture piece shown at the 25th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York’s Javits Center.

According to its website,, the fair has representatives from 31 countries including Australia, Denmark, France, Italy, Sweden and the United States.

The four-day fair attracted over 29,000 people this year.

The website also said the fair features more than 500 exhibitors showing off items in one of 11 categories.

Some of those categories were seating, lighting, wall coverings and contemporary furniture.

Solinsky said he had to apply for the show and was in disbelief when he was told that he was one of the lucky few selected to have his furniture design displayed at an international fair.

“I was really excited and shocked,” Solinsky said. “I didn’t think [my furniture piece] was that good.”

Solinsky, who has been designing furniture for two years now, said this was one of his first major pieces.

Despite being his first piece, it earned him third place in the Powermatic student woodworking competition, finishing with 930 votes.

“It was pretty cool to see I finished third,” Solinsky said. “I was pretty happy.”

The voting, which was open from April 23-May 20, was to determine the winner of “The People’s Choice Award” and recipient of a Powermatic bandsaw.

Solinsky said his interest in furniture design is something that began in high school and has continued to grow. Solinsky also said his living conditions played into his inspiration for his current design.

“When I was designing it, I wanted to make it a piece that worked in small spaces,” Solinsky said. “I like making pieces that have more than one function.”

The lattice portion of the design can come off, Solinsky said. Solinsky also said just by simply rotating one piece forms the table into a chair.

“If you live in a small apartment and you have company over and you need a chair, well then you can just grab this,” Solinsky said. “It’s a good space-saver.”

According to, Solinsky created the table chair using hard maple, baltic birch and milk paint.

After he graduates in December 2013, Solinsky said he plans on attending graduate school, where he will continue to work on furniture pieces.

“I like creating the multiple function pieces,” Solinsky said. “It adds an extra challenge.”

Solinsky said he is interning at Anderson Ranch in Colorado for the summer where he is assisting an instructor in teaching a number of two-week long classes in which participants learn how to design furniture and work with different materials.

Solinsky said he hopes to one day be teaching furniture design classes and said students should  be original and creative in their work just as he’s learned to be creative through his own work.

“Don’t keep doing what has already been done,” Solinsky said. “Keep pushing the bounds.”