Canadian Woodworking

Laminate competition

Blog by Rob Brown

We all love solid wood. Its grain, colour, warm texture and workability have drawn all of us to build so many great projects with it. In the woodworking world there are a few general approaches to working with wood and other materials that run contrary to what many woodworkers feel is best.

First on that list is painting wood. I’ve heard it many times. “Why on earth would you cover up the natural beauty of wood with paint?!” Although I think there’s a time for painting wood, I understand why many others cringe at the thought.

Using plastic laminates also causes mixed reactions. After all, what could be further from the warm, soft feel of wood, and the ability to shape solid wood, than plastic laminate? Again, I think there’s a time and a place for it. And as a recent competition has proven, makers can do some pretty eye-catching things with plastic laminate.

The FORM Student Innovation Competition is a modern take on the original “FORM: Contemporary Architects at Play” challenge, held by Formica Corporation in 2008. Ten world-renowned architects, including Zaha Hadid, Michael Graves, Bernard Tschumi and Massimo Vignelli, constructed new works of art from Formica brand products.

Formica has since added a student side to the competition. The first edition of the FORM Student Innovation Competition was in 2017-2018, making this year the sixth  edition. The competition is launched each fall and runs until March.

Canadian successes

Formica Canada is proud to announce that two Canadian students have been named winners of the 2023 FORM Student Innovation Competition among 150 projects from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Tom-Elliot Monette of CEGEP de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec, took top honours with his work “Voluta.” Meaghan Maass of Fanshawe College, Ontario, took home third place with her “Mooi Modular Storage Units.”

The top three winning students will receive cash prizes, and the grand prize winner will see their Voluta design come to life, as it will be manufactured and displayed at NeoCon in Chicago in June.

For the competition, students were invited to create furniture using Formica brand products under the theme of maximalist design. Their submissions were judged by a jury of top industry professionals. For the third time in five years, students from Canada won two of the three main prizes in this prestigious competition.


The winner in this year’s competition was Tom-Elliot Monette, from Quebec. His first step in designing this piece was to research the maximalist movement. “From all my sketches and concepts,” Tom said, “I selected the one that best represented the essence of the maximalist style while also being functional. Then, I refined the concept by fine-tuning the details and choosing the right materials.”


“Mooi Modular Storage Units”

After doing some research to further understand the design style, Meachan Maass, the third-place winner from Ontario then moved onto designing her piece. “I loved the concept of how one piece of furniture could have many different uses and functions and be as unique as the user,” she said.

Mooi Modular Storage Units

“Psychedelic Table”

The second-place winner was from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Dario Duran made a multi-level table with nostalgic flair.

Psychedelic Table
Last modified: May 17, 2023

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

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