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Award-winning furniture design grew from a grandfather’s encouragement

BOONE—Rebecca Goddard’s award-winning furniture design is as much a tribute to her late grandfather as it is an acknowledgment of her talents.

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A junior industrial design major in Appalachian State University’s Department of Technology and Environmental Design, Goddard, from Charlotte, won the inaugural Student Pinnacle™ Award from the American Society of Furniture Designers (ASFD) for her ANOVA side table. The Pinnacle™ Awards were created in April 1995 by the ASFD board of directors to promote design quality and encourage the recognition of furniture designers within the retail home furnishings industry.

The award was presented Oct. 20 at ASFD’s awards banquet held in High Point. Awards were presented in 17 categories, including the new student honor.

The 24-by-18-by-14 table is constructed from black walnut and finished aluminum.

“It’s made from wood that was given to me by my grandfather that came from a walnut tree he harvested and began drying over 20 years ago,” Goddard said. “Being a master wood worker himself, my grandfather took great interest in my furniture work and was very enthusiastic about being able to contribute to my design.”

Goddard said the piece took on even more significance after her grandfather died unexpectedly in early October. She received the award exactly two weeks from the day he passed away. “It’s hard to put into words just how special it was to have been given the award,” she said. “Even though winning the award is an accomplishment in and of itself, I’m very thankful to have such a strong sentimental connection to my design because it serves to remind me that no accomplishment I reach would be possible without the support I receive from others.”

Each piece of wood for Goddard’s design was methodically cut and mitered in order to leave the natural flow of the wood grain uninterrupted. Spline joinery was used to increase the table’s structural integrity and provide intricate aesthetic interest. Pairing the burled black walnut with the satin-finished aluminum provided a contrast that suggests a hierarchy between the wood and metal, allowing the aluminum accents to seemingly disappear as the beauty of the natural wood grain becomes the main focal point, she said.

Judges of the Pinnacle competition wrote that, “The continuous flow of wood is a thoughtful detail in the waterfall edge. With the high caliber of student entries, there is tremendous hope for the future of outstanding furniture design.”

Goddard attributed her success at the competition to professors in Appalachian’s industrial design program, who she said are “incredibly invested in their students. I truly appreciate just how hard they’ve pushed me to grow as a designer. It was great to work with my professor, Richard Prisco, during the design and building process. Even though he held me to high expectations, he was also very willing to provide me with the direction I needed to produce the piece successfully,” she said.

She also commented on the importance of such awards that recognize and encourage budding designers.

“It’s such an honor to have won a Pinnacle Award this early in my career as a furniture designer,” she said. “As a student, I find it incredibly valuable to have avenues through which I’m able to share my work with professionals in the industry, and I cannot thank ASFD enough for providing this opportunity.”

About ASFD

Founded in 1981, The American Society of Furniture Designers is dedicated to excellence, innovation, education and originality in furniture design. Serving as the unified voice of the furniture design community, ASFD advocates professional practice and integrity, promotes the value of good design to the furnishings industry and strives to support, motivate and inspire the designers of tomorrow through mentorship and scholarship programs.