CSULB student’s design wins scholarship, prestigious display

eric-macdonald-and-chair2.jpgEric MacDonald, an industrial design major at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) who lives in Costa Mesa, has won the Student Design Scholarship Competition at the 2008 Wilsonart Challenges with his entry of an ultra-contemporary chair design.
Wilsonart awarded MacDonald with a $1,000 scholarship for his design, and the CSULB Industrial Design Department received $5,000. His chair was also displayed in the Wilsonart booth last month at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, which was featured in Metropolis magazine.
According to MacDonald, by approaching construction of his chair from an elevated view, and by transforming simple shapes into new dimensions, he was able to create a unique profile for the seat, back and the armrest.
“I spent more than 100 hours in the shop at Cal State Long Beach working on the chair. It’s made from preformed plywood, acrylic and laminate. It was a tedious process of heating up the laminate to bend it over, then letting it cool to take shape,” said MacDonald. “Since the goal was to keep the image of a chip recognizable in the chair, I quickly became exhausted with pushing, pulling and stretching it. But pushing it into its third dimension is what gave the chair its life. The negative space of the chip is defined with structure lines, as in architecture, and these lines actually create the image of the chair.”
Scheduled to graduate with a bachelor’s of science degree in industrial design from CSULB in May 2008, MacDonald originally became interested in the medium when a high school teacher described the style as “always fun to hang out with.” That simple statement intrigued him and his interest in industrial design grew from there.
“What drives me is the ability to give experiences, and I believe products are only remembered by the experiences they give, whether great or dismal. Being able to control that experience, I believe, is the goal of a great design,” said MacDonald.
One of MacDonald’s favorite artistic influences is M.C. Escher, the Dutch artist known for his mezzotints, lithographs, and mathematical woodcuts that often feature difficult-looking construction, like MacDonald’s chair.
“M.C. Escher’s pencil and chalk drawing are fascinating examples of dimensions. It’s very hard to figure out what dimension he’s looking at in his work. I just find him amazing,” McDonald said.
Armed with his bachelor’s degree next year, MacDonald plans to keep his options open while launching his professional design career.
“This industry is extremely varied. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into one niche,” he said. “I can go into consumer electronics, industrial work, a lot of different directions. My passion is airplanes, and the only way to get close to that industry is to design airplane interiors. That is my goal, to work for a company that manufactures airplanes.”

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