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Two students win Groovystuff by Design contest at Las Vegas Market

Groovystuff Mike HerbertThe product board for Mike Herbert's "The Vail Chair"
Home furnishings manufacturer Groovystuff has announced the winners of its Groovystuff by Design: Connecting Education with Industry Challenge. Mike Herbert from Columbia College and Eric Sia from Southern Illinois University - Carbondale placed first in the "Popular Vote at Market" at the recent Las Vegas Market, held Jan. 28-Feb. 1, for their environmentally friendly and innovative product designs.

Herbert and Sia competed against undergraduates from their respective schools to design an environmentally friendly product that reflects the celebrity Dick Idol Legends brand and can be produced using sustainable manufacturing practices. Students produced miniature models and product display boards for market attendees to vote on during the Las Vegas Market. Herbert's "The Vail Chair" and Sia's "The Savanna Magazine Rack" were voted "most marketable and most likely to show a profit" by retailers, interior designers and trade professionals attending market.

Herbert is a junior at Columbia College Chicago, majoring in product design. For the Groovystuff by Design Challenge, he was inspired by art deco architecture and the glory days of the American past when he designed a rustic modern lounge chair that "James Bond would feel comfortable in." Sia is a senior at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, majoring in industrial design.

According to Sia, "The design brief was to develop a home decor product that will enhance the modern rustic design lifestyle. My inspiration came from the different types of materials. I was drawn to the light colored Eucalyptus cut pieces and the larger teak branches and the contrast between the two colors of light and dark. The Savanna Natural Rack is a magazine, newspaper and book holder that has the aesthetic that will complement a room with modern rustic feel with its simple design. Nature is simple; it can exist in a grand scale or in the smallest details. It's authentic, elegant and pure. Sometimes nature provides a gift, an inspiration to bring together the most unique combinations of Mother Nature's treasures to create a divine perfection, the Savanna Nature Rack."

Groovystuff Eric SiaThe product board for Eric Sia's "The Savannah Magazine Rack"
Each student will receive a $250 cash prize along with permanent royalties for life.

"The challenge was a very productive learning experience that opened a new horizon in the design world for me," Sia said. "I enjoyed working with the materials but it was tough, however it expanded my knowledge which I'm thankful for. I would like to thank Groovystuff for giving me the opportunity to be part of the design challenge."

"I'm very thankful and so encouraged that my chair won the Popular Vote at Market for the Groovystuff Challenge," Herbert said. "When my professor of my furniture design class, Mark Klein, announced the project last fall, my class and I were extremely excited, and we all did so well in helping each other turn out an amazing level of quality and creativity. I'm so thankful for all of them and for the chance to be creative with reclaimed materials that really stretched our boundaries as urbanite design students in Chicago."

The University Hall of Innovation & Job Creation is an industry co-operative founded in 2011 by Groovystuff founder Chris Bruning that allows students and professors to network with retailers, designers, manufacturers, suppliers, journalists, and industry professionals.

In stage one of the Groovystuff by Design challenge, students compete for the "popular vote" and a cash prize at the High Point or Las Vegas markets, where Groovystuff maintains permanent showrooms. Students submit a 20" x 30" product board, a 1/4" scale model and a 42" tall pedestal for display and presentation to retailers, designers and trade professionals attending the markets. Stage two of the process sees the winning innovative designs from stage one put into production and launched six months later at the following market. Those student prototypes then compete for the grand prize of "Most Orders Written at Market" and the winner is rewarded with an additional cash prize, inclusion in the celebrity endorsed Dick Idol Legends Collection, permanent royalties for life and motivation to join the residential home furnishings industry.

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