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March 9, 2017
Allied News

Emerging Artist Competition Winners Announced: Harvard architect and RISD furniture designer take top honors at 23rd Philadelphia Furniture Show

By Rosemarie Fabien, PhD | Fabien Communications
Library Bench by Julia Michalski, winner of the Philadelphia Furniture Show's Emerging Artist Competition

Philadelphia, PA (March 2017) – For the first time in the history of the Philadelphia Furniture Show, judges’ tallies resulted in a tie for the annual Emerging Artist Competition. Julia Michalski, a Harvard-educated architect and fabricator from Newtown, Pennsylvania; and Justin Seow, a furniture major at the Rhode Island School of Design, won the competition sponsored by The Furniture Society, a national, nonprofit educational organization based in Durham, North Carolina.

"There was a great level of craftsmanship and diversity in design that made it especially hard to determine a winner," said competition juror David Short of Edgewood Made, a Philadelphia furniture company.

Short and fellow jurors Clark Kellogg of Kellogg Furniture, a prominent fine furniture maker from Houston; and R. H. Lee of Los Angeles’ Offerman Woodshop helmed by actor Nick Offerman, scored the work of thirty-three applicants from fifteen states and Canada on six criteria: skill, craftsmanship, design, innovation, beauty, and presentation.

“Mr. Seow’s ‘Chair from a Third Perspective’ is a wonderfully self-contained thesis on being a first-generation American,” said Kellogg. “The chair makes a clear reference to a traditional Ming Dynasty chair, yet looks forward in a way that is entirely new. And Ms. Michalski’s ‘Library Bench’ balances the natural, slab-edge detail of the material with the simple L-shape form. It is both timeless and brand-new.”

Michalski and Seow will each receive a booth at the Philadelphia Furniture Show in which to display their work, as well as a mentorship from Furniture Society jurors.

Originally from California, Michalski earned an undergraduate degree in architecture from USC and a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, working in architects’ offices while a student. After graduation she mentored with master craftsman Bruce Linthicum, then opened Moosch Design, a woodworking and prototyping workshop for small scale architectural design, interiors, furniture and product design Newtown, Pennsylvania.

“In graduate school I developed a strong appreciation for furniture, which I consider to be another form of architecture,” says Michalski. “The furniture builder more intimately addresses human perception and comfort, also creating spaces and atmospheres, but with a much higher degree of flexibility.”

Justin Seow, a junior at RISD majoring in Furniture Design and minoring in Nature-Culture-Sustainability, works in wood, metal, LEDs, glass, faux fur, rubber and foam. Despite his youth, he has exhibited in Boston and Providence galleries, and apprenticed in fabrication and prototyping workshops throughout the summer and during the school year. He is originally from Wisconsin.

“Through furniture,” says Seow, “I mix historical styles, techniques and ideologies to present contemporary designs that speak to multifaceted identities and subvert preconceived notions of what something is, or should be. My design processes create new forms and images that reflect the nuanced identities of today.”

The prestigious Competition is open to any apprentice, current student or graduate within three years of commencement. A complete list of professional furniture makers participating in the Philadelphia Furniture Show is available at

If you go
Where: 23rd Street Armory, 22 South 23rd St, between Market and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia

When: Friday, March 31, Preview Party, 6-9pm, $45. (VIP Passes for $75 include access throughout the weekend and complimentary champagne)
Saturday, April 1, 10am – 6pm, $15, students $8
Sunday, April 2, 10am – 5pm, $15, students $8
Weekend Pass: $12 in advance

Info: Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 215.387.8590.

Philadelphia Furniture Show
In concert with Philadelphia’s centuries-old tradition of fine woodworking, the Philadelphia Furniture Show has exhibited exceptional, artisan-quality furniture and furnishings annually since 1995. Exhibitors are invited to participate based on the quality of their work. The Furniture Show is produced by Green Tree Events, also the producers of New England Made Giftware and Specialty Food Shows ( Contact: Stefa Normantas, [email protected], 215.387.8590.

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