Tim Kuo

The Encounter by Tim Kuo

There are many hungry students out there looking to make a name for themselves in the design world; perhaps it’s Tim Kuo, an Industrial Design student at Rochester Institute of Technology, who is showing the signs of a visionary who has what it takes to succeed. His seating project, The Encounter, was recently chosen by an international panel of judges to be exhibited in the 2011 ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair).

Tim Kuo Process

Tim Kuo building The Encounter

In the fall of 2010, twenty seniors studying Industrial Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology participated in a course with Professor Josh Owen, a celebrated American industrial designer who has won three Chicago Athenaeum Good Design Awards, among other honors. The students were given the task of creating seating prototypes that celebrate the richness of Wilsonart International’s laminate surfacing materials. Each student was required to “select and research a specific context and respond with an inventive proposal that provided a utilitarian service in the form of a seating object typology.” The context for Tim’s proposed seating project, The Encounter, is that in today’s modern society people often avoid unnecessary conversation with strangers. This creates a psychological wall that prevents chance social interaction. Tim wanted to create a seating device that could enhance the exchange of information between strangers in a public setting. His solution: build a seat for two to three people which provides a temporary respite with receptacles for certain reading materials, umbrellas, walking sticks, and other common devices. Tim’s idea for The Encounter also takes into consideration the branding strategy of Wilsonart International; the Wilsonart sample chip icon is the same red as all the functional surface areas of the bench and inlayed in the same manner, resulting in the brand being associated with solving meaningful social as well as practical problems. Tim’s idea offers strangers the chance to interact directly by chatting about the bench, or indirectly by leaving a newspaper in one of the slots for the next person to read. His vision establishes a connection between design and human interaction, transforming a common bench into a functional social experiment. We at Styleture think The Encounter is a fantastic idea and so did the panel of judges who chose it as one of six ideas to be exhibited at this year’s ICFF.

Tim Kuo Process1

Tim Kuo building The Encounter

Tim Kuo Encounter close

Close-up of Tim Kuo's The Encounter

Tim Kuo Encounter

The Encounter

A little background on Tim: he was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1989 and came to the U.S. in 2002. He says, “Studying at Rochester Institute of Technology changed my entire life. The new environment has given me a chance to meet new people and be able to understand different cultures.” It’s also allowed him to develop his talents as an industrial designer and now achieve a level of recognition with his project, The Encounter, which could have a profound effect upon his future as a designer, not to mention the design world. For Tim’s complete portfolio visit his website: http://www.chaotimkuo.com