Archive for Wednesday, June 30, 2010

KSU grad’s ‘Illuminated’ design an award winner

Matthew Johnson, center in sportscoat, is awarded a crystal trophy in recognition of his first-place win in the 2010 Cooper Lighting SOURCE Awards National Lighting Design Competition. Johnson, Shawnee, recently received a master's degree from Kansas State University. Pictured is Lance Bennett, Cooper Lighting vice president of specification sales, left, Will Yankey, KSU assistant professor, Matt Johnson, Rebecca Hadley-Catter, manager of SOURCE (Cooper Lighting's education center), and Kraig Kasler, Cooper Lighting's vice president of marketing.

Matthew Johnson, center in sportscoat, is awarded a crystal trophy in recognition of his first-place win in the 2010 Cooper Lighting SOURCE Awards National Lighting Design Competition. Johnson, Shawnee, recently received a master's degree from Kansas State University. Pictured is Lance Bennett, Cooper Lighting vice president of specification sales, left, Will Yankey, KSU assistant professor, Matt Johnson, Rebecca Hadley-Catter, manager of SOURCE (Cooper Lighting's education center), and Kraig Kasler, Cooper Lighting's vice president of marketing.

June 30, 2010

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When it comes to his professional life, Matt Johnson lives by a mantra he learned at school: design, design, design.

“Whether it’s a coffee cup, a table or the interior of a 30,000-square-foot office building, design is everything,” said Johnson, who moved with his family to Shawnee in 2005.

Johnson designed a portable exhibit which used dramatic lighting to showcase the work of famous furniture designers in his award-winning project "Illuminated."

Johnson designed a portable exhibit which used dramatic lighting to showcase the work of famous furniture designers in his award-winning project "Illuminated."

And if almost to prove his point, Johnson, who recently received a master’s degree from Kansas State University in interior architecture and product design with an emphasis on furniture design, won a national lighting competition.

On May 11, Johnson was awarded a crystal trophy and $1,500 in recognition of his first-place win in the 2010 Cooper Lighting SOURCE Awards National Lighting Design Competition for his project titled “Illuminated.”

The virtual exhibit featured the work of eight famous furniture designers.

The virtual exhibit featured the work of eight famous furniture designers.

For his project, Johnson designed a portable exhibit, which showcased pieces of furniture from eight iconic designers. In his design, Johnson used Cooper Lighting products to guide people through his exhibit, highlight information from the designer and to highlight the individual furniture pieces. The rest of the space strategically uses darkness to add to the atmosphere.

Matt Johnson display's his a Paradox table.  He designed and built it in the fall of 2008.

Matt Johnson display's his a Paradox table. He designed and built it in the fall of 2008.

“It was a very dramatic space,” Johnson said. “The light was used as visual interest, for way finding, information and to highlight and the display.”

Johnson’s entry was a project he did for his professor, Neil Hubbel. It was a modification of a project Johnson worked on while studying abroad in Denmark, where he was supposed to make a lighting display for a traveling exhibit.

He said the idea of using Cooper Lighting products for a portable exhibit is what helped separate him from the rest of the pack in the judges’ eyes.

Johnson built this desk and chair combination during his last year at KSU.

Johnson built this desk and chair combination during his last year at KSU.

“They’ve never had an entry that used their lights in a temporary lighting space,” Johnson said. “Typically (contestants) used their lights in a retail space or for an office space. I was able to use products, which were typically used for a permanent installation, and showed how they could be used in a portable installation. They were impressed with that.”

He said he was surprised with the win because he only had the month during his winter break to work on the project.

But while Johnson is still basking in the glow of his national lighting award, he is already moving back to his one true passion: furniture design.

He has recently returned from a two-week workshop at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine.

He was also accepted for a special nine-month program at the same center, which would give him special certifications in furniture making, but he said he couldn’t afford it just yet.

Instead, he will be heading back to Denmark for a year-long paid internship before coming back and working on his ultimate dream, to open his own furniture design and manufacturing business.

“I’m trying to skip that part of my life, where I have to do something else for 10 or 15 years,” he said. “ I may enjoy working at a firm, but I just I want to design furniture. I want to build it. That would be nice.”

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