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Seattle industrial design student Adam Weisgerber recently beat out more than 1,000 competitors to win the fourth annual Design Within Reach Champagne Chair Contest. 

Competitors

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Design Truly Within Reach

Shagadelic furniture for very, very small people.

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Seattle industrial design student Adam Weisgerber recently beat out more than 1,000 competitors to win the fourth annual Design Within Reach Champagne Chair Contest. 

Competitors were allowed to use the materials from no more than two champagne bottles (wire, label, cork, and foil--everything but the glass), with glue being the only permitted adhesive, to create a chair no larger than 4-inches by 4-inches by 4-inches.

Weisgerber, a Western Washington University junior currently in Louisville, KY, interning as an industrial designer for General Electric, heard about the contest in December and remembered it on New Year's Eve when friends popped celebratory champagne bottles.  "I told all my friends to hold on to all the bottle parts," he recalls. "They thought I was crazy, and I'm like, there's this really cool contest and the more pieces the better."

He decided to make the chair out of cork ("I felt like cork was such a beautiful nautral material," he says. "I liked the purity of the cork") but only a few of his friends drink, so he ended up with only three corks.  Two were reserved as raw material for the chair, leaving him with a single cork on which to practice.

After a few weeks of tinkering and sketching (as well as creating a 3D virtual model), Weisgerber holed up one night in GE's model shop to make the chair.  He sanded down the corks into rectangular shapes, glued them together, and then cut out the tiny shape using an industrial-size band saw intended for sawing large chunks of wood and plastic.  "I would have used a smaller, one, but we didn't have one," he says.  "I thought I was going to cut my fingers off."

He didn't, and he smoothed the shape with  jeweler's file and sharpened the chair's edges with a miniature sander.  "I'm not sure if I was supposed to be there," he says.  "I was there at 1 a.m. making a little cork chair, a little worried that security would come by and ruin my little art project."Weisgerber wanted to darken the sides of the chair to create a visual contrast, but since using ink was prohibited, his only option was to burn the cork.  He almost lost his creation when he set it on a glass-top stove burner and the entire thing caught fire.  He saved it, and after some careful sanding, he created the intended effect with a sautering iron. 

Weisgerber's chair, along with the runners-up, will be displayed at DWR stores throughout the spring.  As the grand prize winner, Weisberger also won $1,500 to spend at DWR.  "It's probably going to buy me one chair," he chuckles.  "Maybe two if I'm lucky." 

The winning chairs will be on display Thursday, April 12, at the Seattle DWR at 1918 First Ave.  Check out all the runners-up, which reveal the quality of Weisgerber's competition, here.

 
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