Wood working wonder

Andrew Kopp, senior in integrated studio arts, is a local who is famous for his furniture creations. Photo: Shing Kai Chan/Iowa State Daily

Shing Kai Chan

Andrew Kopp, senior in integrated studio arts, is a local who is famous for his furniture creations. Photo: Shing Kai Chan/Iowa State Daily

David Wise

Andrew Kopp, senior in integrated studio arts, spent between 50 and 70 hours crafting a piece of furniture for the Design Emphasis Showcase of the International Woodworking Fair, a prestigious design competition for students around the nation.

In late August, his piece, titled “Concept Bench,” was judged by a panel of furniture industry designers, manufacturing and retail executives and members of the trade press who have design-oriented backgrounds in Atlanta.

Kopp’s design was the “outstanding furniture piece in the competition,” winning the title of Best of Show and earning him $2,000.

The well-crafted bench is made of a lighter wood, called hard maple, and the upholstery is olive green with a web design print. He chose the fabric because he felt the curves in the print went well with his design, Kopp said.

“The wood part of it wasn’t that difficult for me. What was difficult was the upholstery because I’ve never done it before. So this was my experiment in upholstery,” Kopp said.

The process of making a piece of furniture, such as his bench, is quite detailed.

First, Kopp decided what he wanted to make and what influences would affect the piece. Next, he started sketching the piece until he was able to create a mock-up — a miniature model of the idea made of cardboard, foam or other materials. A full-size drawing followed, enabling Kopp to include joinery, which are the connection points between the different materials. Then he started building his design.

Kopp became interested in furniture design in his second year at Iowa State. He explained that while going through a mandatory eight week orientation, he saw the works of advanced design students.

“I enjoy making furniture because I enjoy working with my hands and being able to create something out of raw materials,” Kopp said. I like to be able to take that process of gathering ideas, getting inspiration, combining them together and then planning out how it’s going to be put together and converting it into something that’s appealing to the eye.”

The inspiration to come up with an award-winning piece like this, Kopp said, generally comes from his surroundings — what he feels, sees and does.

More specifically, he is inspired by certain artists.

Alphonse Mattia, senior critic at the Rhode Island School of Design, made a piece that inspired some of the design that went into Kopp’s “Concept Bench.” Modern day product design, Kopp said, also influences his work.

The new piece Kopp’s currently working on is a non-traditional, interactive cabinet. The drawers aren’t visible and, as you walk up to it, Kopp said, it senses you’re there. When it senses you, there’s a motor on the inside that raises the drawers out of the piece. He plans to have it completed by December for his senior project.

Through Kopp’s success, he hasn’t just won competitions — he’s also gained the respect of his fellow students and professors.

“He always does pieces that have really interesting details about them — like his piece that he is working on that moves without you even touching it,” said Megan Petersen, senior in integrated studio arts. “He really pushes the boundaries.”

Joe Muench, associate professor of art and design, said he has enjoyed working with Kopp, and that his talent and motivation applies to areas besides wood working.

“Andy’s sensitivity to materials, dedication to the act of making, and thoughtfulness as a designer all work to yield extraordinary results,” Muench said. “In my jewelry metalsmithing courses he also excelled and produced significant projects that are reflective of the quality seen in the award-winning bench.”

See works by Andrew Kopp

To see pictures of Kopp’s work, go to www.andrewkoppdesign.com.