Illinois Tech Chosen to Participate in CONNECT Student Design Competition at SOFA CHICAGO

The Illinois Institute of Technology has been chosen to participate in CONNECT, a student design competition at SOFA CHICAGO, the world’s premier art fair dedicated to Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art. Now in its 22nd year, SOFA CHICAGO will take place at Chicago’s Navy Pier, November 5-8, 2015. The fair attracts more than 36,000 visitors annually.

Illinois Tech is one of six universities in the country who have been chosen to participate. Other universities include: Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, N.Y.); San Diego State University (San Diego, Calif.); University of Cincinnati – College of Design/Architecture/Art and Planning (Cincinnati, Ohio); University of Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa), and University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (Dartmouth, Mass.).

CONNECT offers design students the opportunity to design unique installations for visitors to “connect” on the SOFA CHICAGO show floor at the annual CONNECT student design competition. The CONNECT competition launched in 2013 at SOFA CHICAGO and aims to highlight the innovative design programs at universities throughout the country.

CONNECT features design environments by each university that incorporate seating and lighting installations designed by students working under the supervision of faculty. Exhibits will be located throughout the show floor, with the intention of offering an intimate space where attendees can sit, relax and CONNECT. The international audience that attends SOFA CHICAGO is able to get an up-close and personal look at the innovation and creativity by future designers from universities throughout the country.

Illinois Tech students have envisioned a prototype kiosk for Chicago’s next gathering spot, which can one day be placed along Chicago’s lakefront to engage pedestrians, bike riders and beach-goers. “This year we treated our CONNECT project as an inter-disciplinarian course between students of the College of Architecture and other majors within the university,” said John DeSalvo, studio associate professor, director of Graduate Studio, head of graduate admissions, Illinois Institute of Technology. “Through that collaboration and exchange of knowledge and expertise between the students we believe we have created a ‘gathering’ space that is both conceptually solid and functional. Our neighborhood pavilion of the future responds to the history of place, an optimal use of given material and a forward thinking view of a neighborhood gathering spot.” The kiosk will celebrate the lakefront as a unifying element for the city of Chicago. Made almost entirely of a folded aluminum sheet, the Illinois Tech CONNECT exhibit is versatile and adaptable to the future, accommodating everything from food to vendors to a performance stage. Back lit image walls will highlight events and people shaping the city. A viewing platform will allow attendees the opportunity to view the SOFA CHICAGO show floor from up above, with lighting will change from dormant white into blue and yellow to a kinetic red.

The winning installation, which will be chosen by a jury of design professionals before the SOFA CHICAGO Opening Preview, will be awarded $3000 by Chubb Personal Insurance, which is a returning of sponsor of the fair for the eleventh consecutive year.

All students from each participating CONNECT school will have the amazing opportunity to submit a proposal for a unique design to be created in glass by the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG). Three designs will be chosen, with the top design selected by CMOG to be created onsite at a Hot Glass Roadshow demonstration during SOFA CHICAGO. The winning student designers will join CMOG’s expert glassmakers on stage during the fair to experience the glass blowing process first-hand.  The three top designs created will be showcased on the fair floor.

SOFA CHICAGO is open Thursday 5–7 p.m. for VIP ticket holders and from 7–9 p.m. to the public; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.–7 p.m.; and Sunday noon–6 p.m. Tickets for the Opening Night Preview on Thursday evening range in price from $150 to $50. Tickets are available in advance or at the door, and they allow access to all aspects of SOFA CHICAGO. Tickets are $20 for general admission; $30 for three-day pass.  Students and seniors (with ID), and groups (10 or more) are $15. For advance ticket sales visit