The Readers' Award 2011

The Readers' Award 2011

Maxwell Ryan
Oct 10, 2011

Congratulations to our amazing finalists this year! It has been an absolutely powerful matchup between six designers who are totally different from one another with remarkable personal styles and stories. We just announced the Judges' Award and it's time now to announce the crowd favorite, which ran away with this year's vote. And the winner is....


Design: Block Desk and Quartet Chair
Materials: Solid Walnut, Painted Maple, Clear Finish
Price Point: Block Desk $2340.00, Quartet Chair $585.00
Designer: Shawn R. Sowers
Location: Perrysburg, OH

The word common, as used by my grandmother, has an entirely different meaning from what is found in the dictionary. She uses the word to describe a person whose character is the perfect balance of simplicity, familiarity, and goodness. I set out to translate the idea of "common" into modern furniture. What I arrived at is an elegant collection of pieces that represent those three ideals through form, construction, and material. Simple is purposeful forms that let the materials, structure, and joinery serve as the decorative elements. Familiar is utilizing the materials and construction methods of traditional furniture in an updated aesthetic. Good is never having to buy the same thing twice.

>> Block Desk & Quartet Chair - Finalist Post
>> Block Desk & Quartet Chair - Submission Post

Congratulations to the readers' winner, Shawn Sowers, who will receive $10k in advertising on our network and daily emails.



Here they are! Our 2011 Design Showcase judges include some of our favorite people in the design world, and each one represents a different perspective from the field. I think you all know Rob (lower right), the founding genius of DWR and now deep into his second act with PUBLIC BIKES, which is putting design as transportation into everyone's life.

Christiane (left), founder of DwellStudio, has created an entirely new and fresh vision for the home through her colorful and modern visual sensibility. John Berg (upper right), founder of Berg Design Architects, represents the architect's disciplined eye with an emphasis on environmental sustainability. John was also a finalist in last year's contest. All of these people have a sharp eye and smart things to say. Find out more about them below.

>> Find Out More About Our 2011 Judges


Thanks to Christiane Lemieux (DwellStudio), Rob Forbes (PUBLIC) and John Berg (BergDesign Architecture) for serving on our esteemed panel of judges.

>> Go To Judges' Award Post



• Click through to view each finalist

From Top: Passageway Switch, Cat Scratcher, The Prop, Block Desk & Quartet Chair, Nook Coffee Table, Belize/Chauras Duvet

Ben Light - The Secret Passageway Switch
Andrew Lesko - Ultimate Cat Scratcher/Lounger
Brouillette & Pajerski - The Prop
Shawn Sowers - Block Desk & Quartet Chair
David Pickett - Nook Coffee Table
Shilpa Rathi - Belize/Chauras Duvet Cover Set


Updated: CLOSED ON Friday, 10pm, Sept. 30
Designs Posted: 31
Designs Received: 80
Pageviews: 281,580 pageviews

After three weeks, 80 submissions, 31 posted designs and tons of voting, we finally have six remarkable designs to go to next week's final. While they get ready over the weekend, check them out and get yourself ready to meet the judges on Monday and think about who you're going to give your ONE final vote to.

1. Secret Passageway Switch (992)
2. Ultimate Cat Scratcher/Lounger (936)
3. The Prop (904)
4. Belize/Chauras Duvet Cover Set (870)
5. Nook Coffee Table (826 )
6. Block Desk and Quartet Chair (809)

------------------- FINALIST CUT-OFF -----------------------

7. Abstract Neon (748)
8. Wineglass Rack (671)
9. Bucks Coffee Table (557)

10. Native American Teepee (543)
11. Nimble (480)
12. Collections Media Console (457)

13. Six-Pack Ring Pendant Lights (440)
14. Lightbulb Chair (440)
15. Terrene (422)

16. Petite Concrete Lamp (415)
17. Chipmunk Turntable (391)
18. Untitled Coffee Table (326)

19. American Flags Map (323)
20. Sett Studio (317)
21. M.O.C. (320)

21. BB Rattle (295)
23. Chaise Nina (263)
24. "Water" Noren (261)

25. LOU The Toilet Seat (244 )
26. CS-1 Side Table (254)
27. Armchair Quarterback (237)

27. Walnut Panel Clock (229)
29. Container Ten-71 (196)
30. Seena Lamp (241)

31. Merkled Cutoff Series (114)

Every entry has a 4 day voting window. The six finalists will be those with the most stars by September 30. Stars are cumulative and there are no negative votes (three stars = 3, etc) in our final tallies.

Got a great design? Let us help you make it big.

This time two years ago we launched our first ever Design Showcase, with the intention of giving a bunch of independent designers a really good soapbox from which to pitch their work. For the lucky finalists, we also wanted to give them even more exposure and see if we could help to boost their careers to a whole new level. Guess what? It worked. In the past 24 months, our winners have had tremendous runs, getting picked up by major newspapers and magazines and watching their businesses skyrocket.

It's time to do it again.


This month we're putting out the call for great, new designs by independent and student designers that promise to make our homes more beautiful and inspiring places to live.

We'll post the best submissions, allow the readers to vote and then give six finalists an unprecedented chance to feature their design and themselves by building their own original post on our site during prime time at the end of September.

Two winners will then be chosen (1 judge favorite and 1 crowd favorite) and each given $10k in advertising on our network and daily emails (if the same design is chosen by both sides, that person will win $20k). This is a golden opportunity to craft an even more personal message and get it in front of our audience of over 7 million monthly readers.


2010 Reader's Choice Winner - Bottles of Hope by Peter Sid

From Peter:

Hi Maxwell,

Going into this competition I was a complete unknown. Although I am a professional artist in Hollywood, I had never shown my furniture to anyone beyond friends and family. In the year since the Design Showcase, I have officially started my own design and furniture business, I have developed a really cool line of furniture which is currently in the final stages of design before manufacturing. I've been featured on blogs from around the world, and increased my visibility and credibility as a designer greatly.

I am most proud however of having "bottles of hope" shown in a museum alongside some of the hottest emerging designers today. I went so see Arik Levy's Chandeliers at the Santa Monica museum of art only a few months before entering the Design Showcase. I would have never thought my work would have been shown in a museum only a few months later. It even got me a little blurb on Elle Decor!

If I can pass on a word to anyone thinking of entering this year... DO IT... NOW! I came very close to not entering simply out of the fear of being judged. Looking back, I can't imagine if I hadn't. It was a truly great experience, and I am very proud to have been a part of it!


-Peter Sid

2010 Judges Choice Winner - Cat Hammock by Tamar Gilad

From Tamar:

Hi Maxwell,

The competition increased traffic to my website and resulted in additional orders. Even a year later, people sometimes find me through the apartment therapy website. I truly appreciate having had the opportunity to participate in the designer showcase competition.


This year we're going to run just like we did last year and open submissions today. So, if you've got a great design or a friend who does AND you want to get it out there, now's your chance.

Note: Voting for each submission is open for 4 days (96 hours) this year.


2010 Winners Post
2010 Contest All Entries Post
2010 Judges Post

2009 Winners Post
2009 Contest All Entries Post
2009 Judges Post

Who Can Enter?

• Independent & student designers from all over the world
• Design couples and teams are welcome

We're looking for folks who need exposure and a big push to get them to the next level. Already designing for a big company? That's okay, but send us stuff you're doing on the side. We want to help you, not the big company.

What Designs Are Eligible?

• One original design that has reached prototype stage or beyond.
• No designs are eligible that have been purchased by or licensed to another company.
• Designs can be for home furnishings, accessories, lighting, appliances or textiles.
• Only one design per designer, please, so choose your best design. If you submit more than one, we'll choose the one we think is best.

If it goes into the home, we're open to it. It can be decor, furnishing or materials related, just don't send us a car design.

What To Submit?

• Your name and contact info
• Materials description
• Your pitch! (@ 200 words)
• A link to your site if you have one (hey, it's 2011, every designer should!)
• Image of design drawing
• Three photographs of prototype or finished product (This is important. You must have taken it at least to prototype stage.)
• One photograph of yourself (Feel free to dress up and look as important as you feel).

Give us your best pitch, and your clearest product shots. Remember that first impressions are the most important.

Dates & Deadlines?

• Submissions accepted until September 21
• Submissions posted from September 6-26
• Finalists notified on September 30
• Finalists posted the week of October 3

The early birds will get the worm. We won't be able to post everyone, and are currently reserving 30 slots in September. We'll notify you if we post you or if we don't, and reserve the right to decide editorially whether or not a submission is strong enough to share with the crowd.

Note on Voting

Though you are allowed to ask your friends and family to vote, only one vote is allowed per person. If we find that any voting has been hacked and that one person has voted numerous times, we reserve the right to either throw out the votes we can identify or discount the submission entirely.

Got a great design? Let us help you make it big.

Submission Form

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