This year marks two decades of caps, corks, cages, and crisp foil labels crafted into miniatures for the Champagne Chair Contest hosted by Design Within Reach (DWR) – an authority on modern home furnishings. The philanthropic event, held in partnership with Champagne Pommery, saw over 200 dazzling submissions from three design categories: most original, best likeness to an iconic form, and Pommery prize for that which uses the supplies provided. Each maker fashioned their materials to fit within a 4″ x 4″ x 4″ volume once assembled into a tiny chair – a term open to interpretation. “We always get irreverent entries,” VP of Product Design and Brand Creative Omar Nobil says. “We have loved witnessing how entries continue to push the boundaries of what is considered a chair piece,” his team adds. They somehow managed to whittle hundreds of submissions down to just 30 on view by the showcase.
On Wednesday, February 7th, participants and enthusiasts alike filled DWR’s SoHo studio where the winners were revealed at a celebratory event and prizes worth up to $1,000 to spend with the brand were awarded. Robust participation this year also helped raise $20,000 for United States Artists, a nonprofit that supports creatives in their essential roles as part of a healthy society. “At its heart, the contest is a fundraising opportunity for the important work of so many crucial organizations within the design industry,” Nobil says. “We are continually responding to the cultural zeitgeist, and assessing how this contest can speak to larger design discourse. We want to continue evolving the contest, while staying true to the materials and soul of the competition.”
The challenge came to be in 2001 when DWR founder Rob Forbes received a mini champagne chair handcrafted by a close friend who was suffering from a terminal illness. The gift was in congratulations of Forbes for his successful 1998 launch of the furniture brand. The precious object was displayed shortly thereafter in memory of his late friend where it drew inquiries about its origin. That later inspired Forbes to create the contest in his friend’s honor with a focus on good tidings for the New Year – a time when champagne abounds. What began as a simple gesture has evolved into an annual tradition that echoes the original sentiment. “The contest provides our community a place in the larger design conversation. It’s not pretentious or exclusive,” Nobil says. “Anyone can enter, and every concept is accepted. Design is universal, and we want to make it accessible through this fun and festive initiative.”
For more information about the competition visit the contest page here and the brand website here.
Our very own Managing Editor, Joseph Sgambati III, participated in the competition – check out his entry here!