Tuesday – Friday | August 25-28, 2020

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA | USA


Design Emphasis Student Furniture Competition

The Management Committee of the International Woodworking Fair, is pleased to announce Design Emphasis 2020, the industry’s most prestigious furniture design competition for college and university students.  The competition will take place at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta, Georgia, August 25-28, 2020.


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 IWF.

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, manufacturing 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 Congress 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.  The winners will be announced at 3:30 pm on Wednesday, August 26, 2020 in the Design Emphasis Gallery in Exhibit Hall.


The deadline for entries in the Design Emphasis Student Furniture Competition is May 1, 2020. You can see a list of the 2018 Finalists and Winners here.


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


Design Emphasis schools who participated in 2018:


Appalachian State University

Art Center College of Design

Auburn University

California College of the Arts

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

Fox Valley Technical College

Haywood Community College

Iowa State University

James Madison University

Kansas State University-College of Architecture, Planning & Design

Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

NC State University

Pittsburg State University

Purdue University

Rhode Island School of Design

Seattle Central College

The Krenov School, Mendocino College

University of Hawaii-Manoa

University of Idaho

Western Piedmont Community College

What the Judges have had to say about past competitions:

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 are 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!"