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Solar-Powered Furniture To Be Featured At ICFF

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New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) is one of six colleges from around the world invited to exhibit at the 18th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), from May 20 - 23, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. Each year, editors from world-leading design magazines, Abitare, Domus, Metropolis, Wallpaper, Frame, Interni and Intramuros, select what they feel are the most innovative student-designed projects to present at the ICFF. NYIT’s exhibit, Furniture for a Solar Home, will feature six original prototypes developed by over 45 undergraduate interior design students. Working with Assistant Professors Martha Siegel and Robert Allen, the furniture was created for NYIT’s entry into the 2005 Solar Decathlon, an international competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy that challenges students to design, build and operate the most energy-efficient solar-powered home. The six high-tech furniture pieces challenge many assumptions of current sustainable design thinking by advancing a new model that suggests interior furnishings become principal participants in the overall energy and material strategy – both for solar and non-solar homes. Students began by questioning the current satisfaction in the sustainable community with architect and author William McDonough’s “cradle-to-cradle” approach to sustainable design. “Being sustainable in an expanding world population model just isn’t enough. There is no provision for the additive consumption of resources that results from expanded growth,” said Allen. “We felt that we had to go beyond the ‘cradle-to-cradle,’ no-impact model and probe some of the assumptions often taken in consideration of function, planning and material choices to affect bigger end results.” Three principles formed the team’s new model: First, they proposed that the consumer, think smaller and exploit local efficiencies rather than rely on larger more consumptive systems, i.e., create “micro-environments.” Second, focus on using less; create overlap, multi-functional capabilities and consolidation whenever possible. Finally, begin incorporating “smart materials,” or materials that amplify desirable effects or utilize not only recycled or re-used product, but are made from material others discard and find useless from the onset. NYIT’s sofa, for example, has photovoltaic panels on the back that collect the sun’s energy, which is used to power two lamps and a high-pressure fan system integrated beneath its cushions, providing for the user’s own heating or cooling needs. The Plug n’ Play station provides a sanctuary for relaxation – a place to read or listen to music – by also allowing the user to again create a micro-environment to provide for their own immediate personal comfort and privacy. The dining table, bedroom and work area are all designed to meet multiple functional needs and consolidate in a space-saving way. For example, the dining chairs have special casters that allow for mobility enabling them to double as supplemental chairs for other areas of a house. In addition, when not in use, the chairs nest under the eating surface to form a beautiful drum-table. The team members felt the interior of a home and its furnishings have been critically overlooked in the potential contribution they can have in impacting the overall energy and material equation for the home. Their new model suggests a far-reaching impact on the way we potentially look at homes in the future. For more information about ICFF, please visit www.icff.com. For more information about NYIT’s designs, contact Robert Allen at 203.434.5610 or e-mail rallen01@nyit.edu. About NYIT: NYIT is the college of choice for more than 14,000 students currently enrolled in more than 100 courses of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees from eight schools, including engineering, architecture and design, business, communication arts and medicine. A private, independent college, NYIT embraces an educational philosophy of career-oriented, professional education for all qualified students and supports applications-oriented research to benefit the greater global community. Students attend classes at NYIT’s Manhattan and Long Island campuses, as well as online and in a number of programs throughout the world. To date, more than 66,000 alumni have earned degrees at NYIT. For additional information, visit www.nyit.edu.

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