Furniture & Lighting

Furniture and lighting products or systems for private, public, commercial or industrial use. Examples include: home or public furniture and seating, office systems, lighting, workstations, etc.

2024 Furniture & Lighting Jury

  • Jury Captain

    Joey Zeledón

    Designer Joey Zeledón Studio

    Joey Zeledón (they/she) is a designer who helps objects find their purpose in life. They do this by creating aspirational narrative identities – sticky stories that drive meaning – for object archetypes. Is it just a printer? or could it be furniture that prints? Is it just a coffee maker? or could it be a barista in your kitchen? Is it just a clothes hanger? Or could it be a closet you can sit on? In 2022, they founded a design studio based on this approach, creating purposeful objects for people and market differentiation for clients. Prior to starting their own studio, Joey brought dozens of products to market from shoes and furniture to housewares, consumer electronics and consumer packaged goods during their 15-year career working for Clarks, Continuum, Smart Design, Steelcase and HP. Their designs have won 40+ awards and have been featured in leading publications. Joey is a proud RIT alum.

  • Jury Member

    Ayako Takase

    co-founder / principal Observatory

    Ayako Takase (she/they) is the co-founder/principal of Observatory, an award-winning, multi-disciplinary design studio founded in 2001. Observatory balances innovation and simplicity to foster meaningful connections with people, culture, and audiences. With work spanning creative fields, Observatory relies foremost on an intuitive process that allows a natural interplay of form and function to take place in their designs. The studio has worked for leading companies such as Herman Miller, Google, and Procter & Gamble. Ayako is also an Associate Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design and a director of the graduate program in the Industrial Design Department. They teach hands-on studios focusing on audience-centric, emotive, and iterative design. Ayako lives in Cranston, Rhode Island, with her partner and too many creatures.

  • Jury Member

    Fernando Ramirez

    Co-founder and Designer Common Object

    Fernando Ramirez is a designer dedicated to exploring the intersection of sustainability and community and how it drives value in design. Specializing in industrial design, furniture design, and environmental design, he has left his imprint on diverse projects, collaborating with both major corporations and innovative startups. His deep commitment to sustainability propels him beyond conventional boundaries, driving him to explore pathways that lead into the realm of regenerative thinking.

    As a co-founder of Common Object, a design studio aligned with his values for people and the planet, Fernando has forged a path guided by these principles. At the core of his studio's philosophy is a "planet- centered" design approach, empowering companies to take steps toward sustainability while fostering more inclusive connections with people. Their versatile portfolio spans industrial, furniture, medical, and interiors. A notable aspect of their work involves community projects, actively participating in co-design workshops specifically crafted to empower and uplift communities.

    Common Object's experience in sustainability has led to the studio's regenerative design experiment, Okaterra—a project that focuses on creating regional supply chains that collaborate with farmers to create materials for furniture. Since its release, Fernando and his design partner, Justin Beitzel, have seamlessly integrated workshops and talks into their studio flow. They are diligently working to share this thinking and posing the question, “Can the future of product design be regenerative?”

  • Jury Member

    Sunshine Thacker

    Founder Sunshine Thacker Studio

    After studying Architecture and Land Development at Texas A&M University, Sunshine spent 15 years navigating lawyers, liars and leeches before returning to her first love - clay. Sunshine's background in architecture informs her always curious - artistic and design practice. Sunshine believes in taking risks, in pushing boundaries. She’s always asking, “why?” Or more often, “why not?” Her work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Dwell, Surface, Wallpaper and Elle Decor among others.

  • Jury Member

    Yuka Hiyoshi

    Designer MillerKnoll

    Yuka is a Japanese industrial designer based in Michigan. She has over fifteen years of experience designing and consulting for companies in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. She is lead designer at MillerKnoll’s Tailored Studio.