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Innovative New Designs Showcased at Hot New Next Competition in Seattle

GRAY's HOT NEW NEXT event held last week in Seattle at Hotel Max made some instant stars! 

In the Brooklyn-esque Artist’s Loft at Hotel Max, we hosted 150 members of the design community for the second in our four-part series to uncover the next big thing in design. Guests mingled with drinks and apps from Miller’s Guild, while DJ City Soundwave set the atmosphere. And 50 lucky attendees got beauty swag bags from Neiman Marcus, Bellevue.

The design pitch competition provided an opportunity for pre-selected designers to present their latest innovations to an panel of judges in key areas of expertise who offered insight and feedback, helping them to hone their concepts. The panel included Dawn Clark, the Vice President of Store Design at Nordstrom, Leanna Haakons, Founder of Black Hawk FinancialLinda Lowry, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of  DSA Solutions, Scott MacLaren, Studio Proprietor of Design Within Reach Seattle, and Jeffrey Valles, the Residential Division Manager of Chown Hardware.

Six very worthy contestants were invited to pitch at this event and all brought something different to the table. We started with architect Matthew Coates, who is very rightly addressing the problem of the conventional funeral industry’s non-eco-friendly practices with his idea for a beautifully-designed, sustainable, alternative vessel named Earth to Earth: Sustainable Burial Vessels. Designer Christopher Dara pitched his custom-made bookshelf, Favook, specifically created to house the owner’s favorite books. Dylan Warnberg and Aaron McGregor of Engroove, pitched a sliding door with a wooden track that performs effortlessly and quietly, where most on the market are made of metal. And for the real design-heads, Anthony Read presented his open-source, innovative fabrication process called EXO Skeletal Fabrication, which makes complex metal fabrication easy and more economical.

The audience, voting for People's Choice, selected a see-it-to-believe-it “pop-up” barn that can be used for weddings and events from a company called Tentwood Traveling Venues. A result of being frustrated by the limited options for outdoor event tents, Tentwood founder Kelsey Von Stubbe created a flat-pack, one-day assembly barn that offers a sturdier and more photo-worthy event space than a typical white tent.

The judges however, were most impressed with the Geekey, and named Brad Sliger the winner of the Seattle leg of the competition. The Geekey is a house key-sized multi-tool that boasts more than 16 functions such as bottle opener, wire stripper, and even smoking bowl. The panel especially appreciated that his patent-pending product is well-designed, utilizes both Imperial and Metric measuring tools, and has already exhibited good sales margins and market viability.

Sliger will receive mentorship from the judges and will move on to the Championship Round, going head-to-head with the winners from the Portland and Vancouver HOT NEW NEXT events. The Championship Round will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre on the GRAY Stage during IDS Vancouver. Sliger will vie for the grand prize: $1,000, editorial coverage in GRAY magazine and across our digital and social channels, and the distinction of being named the next big thing in design.

After the competition last week, guests were invited to Design Within Reach for the exclusive after party—a cool, low key but lively gathering that went into the night.

​Join us for the next HOT NEW NEXT competition on July 10, 2018, happening at Montauk Sofa in Vancouver.

Photographed by Austin Lane Day


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