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Collab is a collaboration of design professionals and enthusiasts supporting the modern and contemporary design collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A volunteer committee founded in 1970, Collab is dedicated to enriching the Museum’s collections with outstanding examples of mass-produced and unique designs, and to making the collections accessible to the general public, students, and the design community. Now among the most important in the country, the design collections of more than 2,000 objects range from appliances and furniture to ceramics, glass, posters, wallpapers, and lighting.

Members of Collab receive special access to a variety of design related programs at the Museum, including private curator led tours, free admission to Collab’s annual Spring Lecture, discounted tickets to Collab’s signature program, the Design Excellence Award, and other member benefits.

Join or Renew with Individual or Dual Benefits ($100)

Collab supports a wide range of educational programming at the Museum, including exhibitions, publications, lectures, symposia, and a citywide, college-level Student Design Competition, as well as a distinguished annual Design Excellence Award. Collab also supports focused installations that showcase the work of their Design Excellence Award recipients—design professionals who have made a significant contribution to the field. Past honorees include Florence Knoll Bassett, Milton Glaser, Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Karim Rashid, George Nakashima, Gaetano Pesce, and Philippe Starck.

View upcoming Collab events >>

Nextfab Tour and Reception
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Location: Nextfab, 2025 Washington Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19146
Reservations required
Call 215-684-7750 or email to reserve. Space is limited.

Join Collab as we tour Nextfab, Philadelphia’s “gym for innovators” , a membership-based, high-tech workshop and prototyping center. In its 20,000 sf state of the art facility, Nextfab fosters artistic exploration and technical innovation by providing its members with access to 3D printing, metal and wood working, laser cutting, digital sewing and much more.


Collab Design Excellence Award

Design Excellence Award
Photograph by Clint Blowers
Each year, the Design Excellence Award is presented by Collab to a design professional who has made a significant contribution to the field.

The award itself, of silver and laser-etched rubber, was designed by Kate Reynolds in 2001 and is fabricated for Collab each year by jewlery designer Maria Eife. Reynolds was a sophomore in Philadelphia University’s Industrial Design program when she entered the 2001 Student Design Competition, Designing The Design Excellence Award. Of her project, she said, "This award is meant to symbolize the continuity of design. Its shape reflects the endless relationship between past, present, and future.”

The elegance of her thinking touched that year's judges and the Collab group so deeply that it has been adopted as an element symbolic of Collab's mission, binding them to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Past recipients of this prestigious award >>

The Student Design Competition

The Collab Student Design Competition is a remarkable annual event held in conjunction with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The competition brief is always linked thematically to that year's Collab Design Excellence Award recipient. For the past twenty years, the event has been an exceptional opportunity for students to experience the rigors of competition and have industry leaders from around the world judge their work. In addition, students interact with colleagues from other universities and institutions, exposing them to an array of design approaches.

The 2014 Competition Brief: Diversity

The 2014 Collab Student Design Competition will take place on Monday, November 17, 2014. This annual event is held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and provides a unique opportunity for regional university design students to experience competition outside the classroom and to receive valuable feedback from nationally recognized industry leaders. Each year’s competition is thematically linked to the work of the annual Collab Design Excellence Award honoree, a world-class individual recognized as having made significant contributions to the field of design.

The 2014 Collab Design Excellence Award honoree and the inspiration for this year’s Collab Student Design Competition, is Rolf Fehlbaum, Chairman Emeritus of Vitra, the Swiss office furniture company founded by his father. Fehlbaum made Vitra one of the most innovative design firms in the world, not only for its products, but also for the architecture of its own buildings and its unique commitment to education. A visionary patron of architecture and design, Fehlbaum created Vitra Edition in 1987 to develop experimental furniture in limited editions with leading contemporary designers such as Ron Arad, Philippe Starck, Ettore Sottsass, Shiro Kuramata, and Borek Sipek. In 1989 he founded the Vitra Design Museum to house his collection and archives of furniture, material studies, and documents, and to promote research and programs about design. Fehlbaum has received numerous honors and awards, including an honorary doctorate from London’s Royal College of Art.


Vitra recognizes that the twenty-first century home environment is a productive and diverse space in which inhabitants play, learn, cook, eat, relax, converse, and work. Their furnishings accommodate these diversities and work within the context of multiple settings.


Students will be challenged to design a chair or seating, which fits into the context of the home and incorporates new design materials and/or technologies. It must be functional and convey a specific style statement. Students must also include a presentation board that describes their research and process, includes the basis for their design as it addresses domestic living; and incorporates a collage of images that defines the space the chair/seating will fit in.

View more information on submissions, prizes, and eligibility >>


All submissions must include the following components:
  1. Model
    • Model: 1/4” scale except for 3-D printed models, which can be 1/8” scale or otherwise noted
  2. Presentation Board
    • 11" x 17" full color, borderless, mounted vertically (portrait format)
    • Design statement outlining concept, technical and materials information, and collage imagery
      No name on the front of the board
    • Your name and the name of University or College should be on the back of the board only
    • High-resolution product image
  3. Registration Form
    • Email form by 12 pm (noon) on Thursday, November 13 to:
    • Also print form and place in sealed envelope, tape it securely to the back of presentation board, and submit it with 3-D model on Monday November 17
  4. Image of Model/Project Statement
    After the Registration Form is received, you will be sent a Sharefile link to upload your Project Image + Statement by Sunday November 16.
    • Hi res image: Minimum Photoshop Image Size: 5 x 7 @ 300 dpi (jpeg, eps, or pdf)
    • Project Name and Inspiration Statement with: your name, email, address, phone number, and school (please submit a Word Doc with this information, include on CD/Flash Drive with high res product image)

Judging Criteria

  1. Evidence of applied research of process and materials
  2. Originality and creativity of the concept
  3. Functionality of design and ability to make multiples
  4. Construction (craft of submission)

Student Competition Exhibition

40-50 of the best designs will go on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for one week, November 17 – 21. There will be a “People’s Choice Award” during the week where museum visitors will be able to cast their votes via iPad stations mounted in the galleries, or vote online. The museum has recently launched ‘Pay What You Wish Wednesday Nights’ at the Museum—and the student exhibition will be featured on Wednesday November 19th. Invite friends and family to come and vote. The “People’s Choice Award” along with all student winners will be presented at the Collab Design Excellence Awards Lecture on November 21.

Free Admission

All student competition participants are invited to the Collab Design Excellence Award program for FREE. Preregistration required at competition.

Date and Location for Submissions

The competition will take place on Monday, November 17 at the Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Fairmount and Pennsylvania Avenues. All entries (scale model and mounted presentation board) are due at the Perelman Building by 9:00 am. Students will return to Perelman at 3:00 pm for the announcement of the winners and a feedback session by the panel of judges. Students should enter Perelman through the front Entrance at both times.


First Prize – $750 + NextFab Prize
Second Prize – $500 | Third Prize – $250 | Two Honorable – $150 each | Peoples Choice Award – $150

NextFab Prize

First Prize will also receive $600 worth of services from NextFab — Philadelphia’s “gym for innovators,” where creatives from all industries can utilize resources to learn, work, or consult with experts in fields such as 3D printing, laser cutting, electronics, textiles, large format printing, and traditional / CNC wood and metal working. This in-kind gift can go toward classes, contract services , and or membership.


After the competition, a selection of the winning projects will be published on the Philadelphia Museum of Art website and presented in the Collab Journal.

Return of Entries

With the exception of those selected to be on display at the PMA, all projects must be picked up at the end of the day of the competition. The Museum cannot be responsible for any projects, not selected, that are left after 5:00 pm on Monday, November 17, 2014. All selected projects can be picked up on Saturday November 22 between 9:00-11:00 am at the Kelly Drive North Entrance. (Out of town students’ projects will be mailed back.)


Students submitting projects to the Collab Student Design Competition must be currently enrolled in a college or university. All submissions are due by 9:00 am, November 17, Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Students are encouraged to attend the event and are expected to hand deliver their entries. All entries must be solo; no joint or team projects will be accepted and cannot be delivered by post or by email. The entrant waives all rights to entries, and the winners are at the full discretion of the Jury.


  • Brad Ascalon – Brad Ascalon Studio NYC
    Brad Ascalon Studio NYC was founded in 2006, Brad Ascalon’s eponymous design studio specializes in contract and residential furniture, lighting, packaging and consumer products. His clients include Design Within Reach, Ligne Roset, Bernhardt Design, Redken, Holly Hunt, Gaia & Gino, L’Oreal, and numerous other global brands. Ascalon earned a Masters’ degree in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute in 2005, and that same year was recognized by Wallpaper* magazine as one of the “Ten Most Wanted” emerging designers in the world. He is currently regarded as one of the leading American design voices of his generation.
  • Melanie Becker – Vitra Vice President, Western Region, North America
    Melanie Becker has worked within the Vitra organization for 14 years. She pioneered the Swiss manufacturers presence on the West Coast resulting in collaborations with innovative creative companies and cultural institutions. Ms Becker has consulted with the architecture and product design programs at Woodbury School of Architecture, Otis College of Art & Design and others. She resides in Venice, CA.
  • Barbara Eberlein – Eberlein Design Consultants Ltd.
    Barbara Eberlein, ASID, President and Creative Director of Eberlein Design Consultants Ltd. founded her firm in 1982 and produces a broad range of fine interiors. She has built a national reputation for expertise in the restoration of significant historic structures of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Appearing on dozens of national television programs, she also frequently lectures on design and preservation. Her numerous awards include twenty-six ASID Design Excellence Awards and fourteen IDA Design Awards, among many others. Clients range from residential, educational, corporate, institutional and hospitality interiors.
  • Tyler Hays – BDDW
    Tyler Hays, originally a painter and sculptor, is the founder and designer behind BDDW. Tyler fabricates all his own work in his Philadelphia workshops. Employing nearly 100 artisans and craftsmen working in metal, wood, ceramics and stone. Tyler, originally from Joseph, Oregon, started his workshop In Brooklyn in 1995 and moved it to Philadelphia 5 years ago. In 2014, Tyler opened his second showroom in Milan, Italy.
  • Bradford Shellhammer –
    Bradford Shellhammer has been named one of the ‘100 Most Creative People in Business’ by Fast Company and coined the ‘King of Quirk’ by Forbes Magazine and the ‘Eames of E-Commerce’ by USA Today. Bradford is the Chief Design Office of and the Creative Director of SuperPier in NYC and was the Founder and Chief Design Officer of He runs a design agency, Shellhammer & Company, in NYC and hold two degrees, a BA with honors in Communications and Media Studies from Goucher College and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons The New School For Design.

Previous Competitions >>

For more information, please contact Development by phone at 215-684-7750, by fax at 215-236-0796, or by e-mail at .

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