First Annual Haworth Collection Design Competition

VOA’s jewel box restaurant design wins top honors

Recently, VOA participated in the 1st Annual Haworth Collection Design Competition. Haworth invited five local New York City architecture and design firms (Environetics, VOA, IA, Perkins+Will, and Mancini Duffy) to create a space using pieces and finishes from the Haworth Collection. Teams had 75 high-design furniture pieces from Cappellini, Cassina, and Poltrona Frau to choose from. Each team selected everything from furniture layouts and fabrics to architectural finishes and lighting fixtures for an imagined space.

Sketches produced during individual design sessions at Haworth’s showroom were rendered in-house then judged for the competition by industrial designer, Todd Bracher, designer of the Alodia stool for Cappellini. Teams were judged on their creative usage of the furnishings in the space and their five-minute design inspiration pitch to Todd.


Guest Judge Todd Bracher

The VOA team (Sarah Heffner, Christina Lo, Charles Mitchem, Yu-Cheng Hsieh and Susanna Nathan with oversight from Bill Bouchey and Sophia Chan) was asked to select one of three design scenarios (a hotel lobby, a restaurant or a teaming area) and we went with the concept for a Williamsburg restaurant called ‘Absurd.’ We imagined that the space likely connects to a hospitality environment and can double as a high-end cafe during the day and restaurant at night. The group chose to create a jewel box in the rough, bringing in a polished, seductive, intimate environment to Brooklyn. The design incorporates polished finishes, leather, plus upholstery and jewel tones to bring Manhattan into Williamsburg.

The VOA design is built around three key items: the Tulip chairs, the Kennedy sofa and the Bac table, which together establish an environment of multiple heights. The Bac table can transition from a co-working space during the day to a group dining/party environment at night. The Kennedy couch anchors the space, echoing the shape of the entrance and creating a focal point for the interior. The Tulip chairs further convey the impression of people inside the jewel box – the chairs can be turned to the window to enjoy the view or turned in towards each other to establish a private environment.

The lack of real world budgetary limitations enabled us to be creative and have fun with different architectural accents. Conceptually, the stairs tread wraps into the wall, becoming the bar. All the furniture bases are black to blend in with the dark floor. This subtly suggests that they’re floating.


Guest Judge Todd Bracher with VOA team members

I love working with Haworth because it has both the stars of design and design basics. The Kennedy is a quiet background piece that is a classic and well made. The Tulip chairs can stand out as the jewels of the space.

VOA had a blast participating in (and winning) the 1st Annual Haworth Collection Design Competition. I’m already looking forward to next year’s edition.

See the winning design at


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