CONNECT Design Competition winner

SOFA Chicago CONNECT Design Competition piece designed by Chuck Romans and created by team of Corning Museum of Glass glassmakers

This piece, designed by graduate student Chuck Romans, was the winning submission to the CONNECT Design Competition. Romans’ piece was created onsite at SOFA Chicago by a team of CMOG glassmakers.

We recently shared works by CMOG’s Artists-in-Residence on display at SOFA Chicago 2014. The Corning Museum of Glass also partners with SOFA Chicago on the CONNECT Design Competition, a program that challenges design students to develop new design environments.

According Erik Meek, the Hot Glass Show Supervisor here at The Corning Museum of Glass, the winning design of the CONNECT Design Competition was chosen based on many factors. “The overall quality of the presentation package, the consideration of the design brief, the consideration of the material of glass and the making process, and the impact the final object will have when presented at SOFA.”

Once the winning design was chosen, “We first contact the winners to let them know their work was selected. We typically make a few versions of the object in Corning before the SOFA fair. We also ask the students to join us at SOFA on our mobile studio, the Hot Glass Roadshow, to make the piece the day before SOFA opens,” Meek said.

Corning Museum of Glass glassmakers

Pictured here are CMOG glassmakers George Kennard (at the bench), Eric Goldschmidt and Chris Rochelle, working with Chuck Romans.

Chuck Romans, a graduate student in the University of Iowa’s 3D Design Master of Fine Arts Program, is the winner of this year’s CONNECT Design Competition. We caught up with him to ask a few questions about his experience.

Chuck, would you please briefly describe your background?

Before continuing my education at the University of Iowa, I was developing my skills in the fine arts (drawing, painting, pastels, charcoal, etc.) primarily two dimensional art. During my last semester of my undergraduate studies, I enrolled in a three dimensional class, Problems in 3D Design I: Form & Structure. This class inspired me to change direction and encouraged me to place focus in 3D Design as a career, therefore deciding to enroll in the master’s program at the University of Iowa.

Would you please describe your design for the glassmaking session?

My design for the glass piece, was inspired by Chicago’s ever visible buildings. Following with the required guidelines of the competition, I decided that a candle holder would be the appropriate object to represent the buildings. The flame of Chicago’s strength. The City of Chicago’s apparent strength is within its buildings. Built by the hands of Chicagoans, the buildings displays the cities strength, resiliency, pride and fortitude. The organic curve of the piece displays the strength and forgiveness to handle the hard winds, financial, and political diversities. The buildings flex, but never weaken or collapse. The blue, implies the commerce of the Chicago’s water system.

What did you feel were some challenges of completing this piece?

I watched the videos of the glass making process on CMOG’s website to gain some idea of what the possibilities could be. I decided to challenge the idea of making something that wasn’t round. I also wasn’t for sure on how the individual pieces would be connected.

Have you worked in glass previously? If not, would you describe the experience?

This is my first time creating something in glass. I wasn’t sure on what to expect, but very pleased with the outcome. I was impressed with the much needed required steps and the overall process to form each individual object. Also have a greater appreciation for the skill demonstrated by the glass makers. They were very professional and made every attempt to create the piece exactly as I envisioned it.


Our thanks to Chuck Romans for sharing his experience. His winning piece was displayed in the Chubb Personal Insurance booth at SOFA Chicago and, in the spring, will be on display at his MFA exhibition. You can see all of the CONNECT Design Competition submissions here. Click here to learn more about how the Corning Museum of Glass provides designers with access to explore concepts in glass.

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