Portland was the first city to host this year’s HOT NEW NEXT competition. On April 8 at the Design Within Reach showroom, four contestants rapid-fire pitched their new design-related concept to a panel of judges: Eric Hildebrandt, regional Vice President, West of Design Within Reach and HAY; Sara Bauer, founder of Immaculate Space and Open Haus Market; Nathanael Chown, marketing manager of Chown Hardware; and Stephanie Plymale, president and CEO of The Heritage School of Interior Design.
Contestants included Prabha Rathinasabapathy, founder of womenswear brand SoMo, who pitched her Modular Shirt, and Justin Nelson of Fernweh Woodworking, who presented his Sling Chair. University of Oregon design researchers Olivia Echols and Kiersten Muenchinger pitched Position One, performance training equipment for professional skeet and trap shooting athletes; and design student Tyler Wilkinson unveiled his X12 Wireless Charging Tray.
“I was more impressed than ever by the quality of the submissions in this round,” says GRAY’s senior editor Rachel Gallaher, who moderated the event. “It encompassed a unique range of products, and each of the contestants seemed to have a strong familiarity with the market and with their potential competition. Even though the judges could only pick one winner, I have no doubt that all of the designers will go on to be successful.”
After the pitches were complete, the judges convened to determine who would be named the overall HNN Portland winner, while the audience voted on a People’s Choice award. Justin Nelson’s Sling Chair received both honors. Post-competition, the festivities continued at Chown Hardware’s event space, The Eleanor, for the “Meet Me in the Bathroom” after party, which came complete with karaoke, a bathtub-themed photo booth, and pink rubber ducks.
A special thank you to our 2019 HOT NEW NEXT sponsors: Design Within Reach and Chown Hardware. Up next: the HNN Vancouver and Seattle competitions. Visit graymag.com/hot-new-next/ for additional information.