Design Emphasis Student Furniture Design Competition


    The Design Emphasis Showcase at IWF is a "must see" at the International
    Woodworking Fair. Furniture pieces designed and built by students from
    colleges and universities throughout the United States are on display at

    Design Emphasis is widely acclaimed as the
    foremost furniture design competition for
students and offers design students a unique opportunity to demonstrate their
talent and originality before a judging panel of furniture industry designers, man-
ufacturing and retail executives, and members of the trade press who have
design-oriented backgrounds. It also provides a unique chance to experience an
international industry trade show, make important career contacts and exchange
ideas with other students from around the nation.


   In May before the IWF show, students submit slides and a written
   description of their project to be selected in a pre-judging session.
   The finalists are invited to attend the Fair and to ship their furniture
   piece to the Georgia World Cong
ress Center for a final judging the
   day before IWF by a panel of industry experts. Following the judging,
over $10,000 in prize money is awarded and presented during a special ceremony. The competition recognizes and rewards these advanced level designs in five categories: Seating, Case Goods, 
Commercial/Office/Hospitality Furniture, Accent Furniture/Accent Tables, and Design Creativity. A prize is also given for the Best of Show.

For more information about The Design Emphasis Awards, call IWF at 404-693-8333, or email your request to

Design Emphasis schools who participated in 2016

  • Appalachian State University
  • Auburn University
  • Brigham Young University
  • Columbus College of Art & Design
  • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
  • Haywood Community College
  • Hennepin Technical College - Brooklyn
  • Herron School of Art & Design
  • Iowa State University
  • Kansas State University-College of Architecture, Planning & Design
  • Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University
  • Louisiana Tech University
  • Marywood University
  • Miami University
  • Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
  • NC State University
  • Parsons School of Design
  • Pittsburg State University
  • Pratt Institute
  • Purdue University
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Santa Fe Community College
  • Savannah College of Art & Design
  • Seattle Central College
  • Southern Virginia Higher Education Center/Danville Community College
  • Tennessee Tech University
  • University of Bridgeport
  • University of Hawaii-Manoa
  • University of Idaho
  • Western Piedmont Community College

What the Judges had to say about the competition:

Jaclyn C. Hirschhaut, Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing, American Home Furnishings Alliance Design Emphasis 2010 Chair

" The caliber of this year's Design Emphasis entries was, unquestionably, the highest quality overall that I've observed over the past decade. These rising furniture designers delivered products developed with a keen awareness of today's consumer lifestyle in outstanding execution. The attention to detail in the finished samples as well as the presentation boards was superb."


Hank Long, Senior Vice President Merchandising and Design, Hooker Furniture Corp.

“This year’s Design Emphasis was a real showcase of the talent, fresh ideas and energy of the young people we need to move forward in the wood working industry. The thought, heart and soul they put into their presentations is the kind of work ethic and creativity that bodes well for our future.”


Heather J. Paper, Senior Editor at Large, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles

"Many of these students' designs would be right at home in high-end showrooms. It's reassuring to know that the future of furniture is in such capable hands!"