Helix Principal Erika Moody, IIDA Judges Steelcase NEXT Student Design Competition

For the last nine years, the Steelcase NEXT Student Design Competition has brought the visions of the best and brightest next generation designers to the forefront, celebrating the future of design. Helix Principal Erika Moody, IIDA was asked to serve as a judge for this year’s challenge, which featured almost 1,000 students from more than 75 design programs in the United States and Canada.

“I’m honored to have served as a judge for the Steelcase NEXT Student Design Competition. The submissions were thoughtful, beautiful, and very relevant to the conversations happening today.” — Erika Moody, IIDA

Students were prompted to develop a new office for an imaginary, socially conscious, minority-owned cosmetics company called NEXT. Even though the client was fictional, the challenge was very real: students were asked to conceptualize a plan that would meet the physical and technological demands of a hybrid workplace, integrate the company’s culture, and create an authentic sense of place in a diverse urban neighborhood. 

“I’m honored to have served as a judge for the Steelcase NEXT Student Design Competition,” said Erika. “The submissions were thoughtful, beautiful, and very relevant to the conversations happening today. I was extremely impressed with the designs that we reviewed, and I can’t wait to see what these students do with their immense talents in the future.”

As a recognized leader in workplace design who is currently helping our clients navigate the design of their new office space, Erika brought an informed and real-time perspective to judging this prestigious competition. She joined an esteemed panel of six other judges from top design practices across the country, including: Eydie Voss from Steelcase; Bill Bouchey from HOK in Los Angeles; Steve South from Spectorgroup in New York City; Sandi Rudy from Cushing Terrell in Austin; Mery Cheval from Ware Malcomb in Orange County; and Holly Christian from Little Diversified Architectural Consulting in Charlotte.

This year’s student finalists were Elliot Beach – Maryville University in St. Louis (winner); Juliana Schwartz – Kansas State University; Molly Taylor – Mississippi State University; and Nevi Keser Gruskin and Morgan James – California State-Long Beach. Submissions pictured below.

After months of deliberating hundreds of designs, the judges convened at the Steelcase Grand Rapids campus to hear from the students behind the top five designs. The contest mirrors the rigor of a real client presentation, setting the students up for success after graduation.

“The caliber of the top five, the diversity of their submissions, the radically different concepts, the level of execution … It was the best we’ve ever seen as a group of five submissions that were all equally weighted after the first round. And it carried through to the formal presentations,” said Jerry Holmes, Steelcase Design Alliances principal and competition co-leader. “It was so challenging to get the judges to make a final decision.”

To see more of the winning submissions and learn more about the competition, visit the NEXT competition page.

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