Road Trip! Apr25


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Road Trip!

Students from our graduate and undergraduate furniture studios have been sending their work to the Chair Affair in Boise, Idaho for many years. Sponsored by the Interior Decorators of Idaho, the event offers prizes for work entered by both professionals and students. I volunteered to deliver the work this year – it would be my first visit to the show.

Penny Maulden and I contacted former students to encourage them to register their pieces. Fourteen chairs and tables were delivered to our workshops, along with six stools from the ID department who were showing for the first time. The van was packed on Wednesday night and I hit the road on Thursday. I had a perfect day to drive up through Snoqualmie Pass, out through Yakima Valley, through Northeast Oregon and over to Boise. Who doesn’t like a road trip?

With one stop for lunch and another to rest my eyes I rolled into Boise 9 hours later and found my way to the Modern Hotel (picture below). I checked in and took full advantage of their excellent bar and restaurant. Gnocchi was on the menu.

Modern Hotel, Boise ID

The Modern is a former Travelodge that now appears to be channeling everything Dwell. Hip, nicely furnished with dark wood and patterned acrylic and offering complimentary breakfast I’d recommend it to anyone heading to Boise.

Friday morning found me unpacking furniture in advance of the judging. The venue for the Gala was a rather drab commercial interior that the IDI was doing a nice job of making ready. Our furniture looked elegant and composed and immediately attracted the attention of volunteers. Here are few examples (before they were arranged):

Some chairs by undergraduate and graduate furniture studio students

The last item out of the van required some assistance. A volunteer helped me to carry Jeff Hyslop’s table top to an appropriately dramatic location where I could attach the removable legs and, with some help, flip it over.

Jeff Hyslop with his dining table

After a late lunch it was time to tour Boise and head back to my room to get some work done.

On Saturday Jeff Hyslop arrived to accompany me to the Gala event later that evening.  We walked into Boise from our hotel, noting wedding parties and lots of social activity downtown. Boise was hopping! We checked ourselves in at the Gala and I bought some of their raffle tickets before we entered to explore our first Interior Decorators of Idaho event.

We had fun. A dozen-or-so students from University of Idaho were there along with husbands and wives of the organizers and exhibitors. A few children drifted in and out at knee-level. I didn’t notice any pets. Everyone appeared to be there for a good time at the end of a weekend of events, talks and a trade show across the river at Boise State. Jeff and I found the food table and then examined all the furniture in the two rooms used for the exhibit. There were some….interesting things to see. The furniture from UW students garnered a lot of attention. It was satisfying to stand next to the work and listen to attendees gush about the quality of the materials, the craftsmanship and the design – I am big enough to admit to some pride entering my blood stream.

Later in the evening awards were announced. This year we came away with one award and two honorable mentions – Katey Ricker won the Best Craftsmanship award for her outstanding cherry and leather chair. Rourke Congdon and Jeff Hyslop both took home Honorable Mentions. I honestly felt every piece we brought had a chance at being given an award, but there were few to give and there were more entries this year – the 20th year of the show – than for any previous year. Oh – and I won a raffle item!

Jeff and I walked back to our hotel for dinner and a drink outside in the warm courtyard. It was a nice setting for a long discussion about making, design, what we had seen at the show, how judging is done and more. As last call was announced we agreed we ought to meet early for breakfast the following day before loading the furniture for the long drive back.

Sunday dawned bright and warm. We ate, packed up and drove, stopping for lunch and at a fruit & antique stand to rest and look for old tools – none good enough. We arrived back at Gould at 8:30pm. Best Craftsperson Katey Ricker met us to help unload, providing me the opportunity to offer my congratulations and the plaque that she had won. Roark Congdon also arrived to lend a hand.

Katey Ricker, winner of Best Craftsmanship

Designing and making a piece of furniture is an incredible experience for both student and teacher. Putting the work out in public and watching others appreciate it is priceless, and a valuable reminder of how high we have set the bar, and of why we invest so much of ourselves in the effort. Good food for thought during the drive back.


I do love a road trip.


Kimo Griggs


Kimo Griggs, Associate Professor, is an architect and fabricator, teaching design studios and workshop-based coursework in materials, making, and digital-design-and manufacturing technologies. Kimo’s research and professional activities have long been focused on the intersection of craft, materials and manufacturing technologies. This trajectory has included the development of hands-on, workshop-based coursework incorporating these elements, with a particular emphasis on digital-design-and-manufacturing technologies.

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