Photography by Austin Lane Day
Our Hot New Next Seattle event last week at Hotel Max made some instant stars! In the Brooklyn-esque Artist’s Loft at Hotel Max, we hosted 150 members of the design community for the second in our four-part series to uncover the next big thing in design. Guests mingled with drinks and apps from Miller’s Guild, while DJ City Soundwave set the atmosphere. And 50 lucky attendees got beauty swag bags from Neiman Marcus, Bellevue!
Six pre-selected designers, who submitted their ideas to us when we put out the call for entries in the spring, got to present their pitches to an esteemed panel of judges that included Dawn Clark, the Vice President of Store Design at Nordstrom, Leanna Haakons, Founder of Black Hawk Financial, Linda Lowry, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of DSA Solutions, Scott MacLaren, Studio Proprietor of Design Within Reach Seattle, and Jeffrey Valles, the Residential Division Manager of Chown Hardware.
Out of the six contestants, one came away as the judge’s pick to advance to the championship round at Interior Design Show Vancouver in September. Brad Sliger, the creator of Geekey impressed them with his multi-tool that’s the size of a house key, and has more than 16 functions such as bottle opener, wire stripper, and even smoking bowl. The judges especially liked that his product is patent-pending, well-designed with both Imperial and Metric measuring tools, and has good sales margins.
Then, the audience voted for its favorite—a see-it-to-believe-it “pop-up” barn that can be used for weddings and events from a company called Tentwood Traveling Venues. A result of being frustrated by the limited options for outdoor event tents, Tentwood founder Kelsey Von Stubbe created a flat-pack, one-day assembly barn that offers a sturdier and more photo-worthy event space than a typical white tent.
The other very worthy contestants all brought something different to the table, starting with architect Matthew Coates, who is very rightly addressing the problem of the conventional funeral industry’s non-eco-friendly practices with his idea for a beautifully-designed, sustainable, alternative vessel called Earth to Earth: Sustainable Burial Vessels. Designer Christopher Dara has created a delightful bookshelf that is custom-made to house the owner’s favorite books, called Favook (favorite and book combined), that would make a great gift for a book lover. Dylan Warnberg and Aaron McGregor presented their company, Engroove, a sliding door with a wooden track that performs effortlessly and quietly, where most on the market are made of metal. And for the real design-heads, Anthony Read presented his open-source, innovative fabrication process called EXO Skeletal Fabrication, which makes complex metal fabrication easy and more economical.
Sliger will receive more mentorship from the judges and go on to pitch against the winners from the upcoming Vancouver Hot New Next (tickets now on sale) and from the Portland round. The grand prize is $1,000, coverage in GRAY, and the distinction of being the next big thing in design.
After Hot New Next, guests were invited to Design Within Reach for the exclusive after party—a cool, low key but lively gathering that went into the night.