With the use of their creativity, innovation and fabrication, architecture and environmental design students will compete at the Fourth Annual Vellum and College of Architecture and Environmental Design Furniture Design Competition.

They will have a chance to earn a scholarship and showcase their work on a leading online furniture retailer’s Web site.

The College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) teamed up with Vellum Design Build – a San Luis Obispo design and build firm – to host the furniture design competition, gallery exhibit and silent auction.

The event takes place today from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the old Pier One at 848 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo.

The exhibition is free to the public and will feature custom-built furniture by architecture and environmental design students, including tables, chairs, light fixtures and other furniture design solutions. The designs must be original and fabricated by the students themselves or in a team.

“It teaches students the importance of design at all scales of the built environment, and teaches them to consider the human quotient when designing,” said Tom di Santo, associate professor of architecture and co-organizer of the event.

“It fulfills their ‘joy of making,’” he said.

The creations will be reviewed by a panel of professional judges consisting of industrial and furniture designers, architects, an architecture professor and a furniture design studio proprietor.

The entries will be critiqued on function, individuality, beauty and production characteristics.

There are usually three grand prize winners who will receive scholarships and about 12 overall winners who will be invited to display their winning design at a Design Within Reach showroom exhibit on Dec. 6, and will receive a round-trip train ticket to the event.

The winning designs will be announced at the reception during Friday’s exhibit and the public, professors and students will be able to silently bid on the entries at the reception and through the end of the exhibit.

This year, about 130 CAED students turned in an application to compete in the exhibition, which is more than they had before, said Jenee Arends of Vellum Design Build.

Arends said they are very excited about the number of applicants because it shows that students really want this event.

The competition is a platform for students to finally put their ideas to work and showcase their talent and ingenuity.

“I’ve never been able to experience a space I designed or seen a project built,” architecture senior Brian Siu Yang said.

“But with this furniture competition, I have an opportunity to use and test my idea and see if it works as I envisioned it,” he said.

Siu Yang designed a chair and chaise lounge hybrid made of stacked plywood.

He said that the process has taken just over three weeks – one week for design and roughly two weeks to fabricate and refine.

He describes the exhibition as “an eclectic mix of all furniture types that completely contradict the expectations of what ‘furniture’ is or should be.”

Siu Yang hopes to design and build a furniture piece that appeals to many people – not just designers – and hopefully spark an interest in design they might not normally have had.

Other students said they always wanted to enter the competition and were encouraged by professors.

“The Vellum show is always really inspiring,” architecture senior Noelle Lee said.

“When you see usable furniture made by your peers that is selling for over $500, you realize that ambition is your only limitation in life.”

Lee designed an adjustable height table, which took about five weeks to accomplish.

The competition is not only a place for students to display their talent, but it also reinforces the bond between the community and Cal Poly.

“It is amazing to see so many members of the San Luis Obispo community coming out to support our students and the brilliant design work that they achieve in such a short period of time,” di Santo said.

“I hope this competition continues to build the bridge,” he added.

“The community really seems to enjoy it,” Arends said.

“Every year we get students and people from the local community thanking us for putting on this event.”

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