U of A’s Annus Mirabilis

Three cheers for the industrial design program at the University of Alberta, fresh from its showing at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York this past May. In its two-decade history, the ICFF – one of the top design shows in the world – had never before accepted a Canadian design school. “I still can’t even believe we actually got in,” says Jonathan Griffiths, fourth-year industrial design student and president of the student design association.

This year’s ICFF featured six design schools from around the world: the California College of Arts; the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano in Italy; the Georgia Institute of Technology; Philadelphia University; the University of Idaho College of Art and Architecture; and U of A. The winning schools were selected by a panel of editors from such prominent design publications as Wallpaper, Frame and Metropolis.

The New York trip capped an exceptional year for the U of A design students – who garnered rave reviews at the Vancouver Home & Interior Design show in October and received the Audi prize for best student collective at the Toronto Interior Design Show in February. “Toronto was amazing,” says Griffiths, “but I have to admit: New York was a hundred times better.”

“It’s been a monumental year, that’s for sure,” says industrial design professor Tim Antoniuk. “To have students exposed nationally and internationally to other design work, plus to have international audiences exposed to their work, is obviously a very rare opportunity.”

To cap the year, University of Alberta design students are among the winners of the Best of Canada Design Competition (see page 48).