On February 28th, Select Surfaces hosted ASID Minnesota’s first White Box Challenge. There were nearly 50 guests in attendance and the space was buzzing with conversation and anticipation. The premise of the competition was that each participant was challenged to create something which incorporates a “mystery item” into the design of a product. The only rule was this item needed to be utilized in their submission. Therefore, the sky was the limit. The mystery product for this year’s competition was Marmoleum and it was donated by Intersource.

This event is new to Minnesota. Our sister ASID chapter in Colorado has been hosting the event for over 7 years with great success. Tickets sell out year after year and there were several former Coloradans in attendance who testified to the popularity of the event. They were excited to see it occurring in Minnesota as well. There were reports of entries getting larger and mystery items more exotic as participants gained confidence and “mystery items” became more exotic.

Our chapter was inspired to debut the event in Minnesota as a result of a survey sent to members asking how ASID MN could improve. The White Box Challenge was born as a result of one of the overwhelming responses, which was that ASID MN members are interested in “fun events and opportunities to network.”

The judges were as follows: Gregory Rich (Habitation),Morgan Molitor (construction2style), Kelly Kegans (Mpls. St Paul Home & Design Editor-in-Chief), Jennifer Jorgenson and Kate Worum (She She), and Rachel Burbul (Century College’s Student President of the ASID Club). There were 11 submissions and they used the following criteria:

  • Best Use of Mystery Item
  • Most ‘Out of the Box’ Creation
  • Best Interpretation of ASID MN’s Mission Statement
  • People’s Choice

The submissions were quite varied in theme and style.  Lighting, jewelry, and stand-alone art pieces were all part of the field. The judges took an hour to evaluate the projects while attendees mingled, networked, and shared hors d’oeuvres, beer, and wine. I had a chance to speak with both participants in the event and others who were just attending to see what it was all about.

Lisa, Maddie, and Alex from Muska Lighting said their entire team was involved in creating their submission, which was more participation than expected. They had a wonderful time creating their project.

Kelli Mickelson of Brynn Alden Interior Design was in attendance with several of her team members and a few non-ASID friends as well. When asked what brought them to the event, she said they always enjoyed the smaller, more intimate ASID events as they felt it was more personal and easier to navigate/network.

Shelby Larson (who happened to win two awards for her project) was there to network and see if ASID membership was something she wanted to invest in.

Here is a list of the winners:

Best Use of Mystery Item: Shelby Larson. She created stamp blocks from the Marmoleum. The judges said the work was “so simple, but impactful and artful.”

Most ‘Out of the Box’ Creation: Shelby Larson. Her work was “clean lined with a purpose that can transcend application.”

Best Interpretation of ASID MN’s Mission Statement: Clyde Kim of Rosenthal Interiors. It was “real and functional with so many uses.”

People’s Choice Award: Eminent Interior Design

Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive about what this “White Box Challenge” was about, but after attending the inaugural event, I plan to participate next year. I encourage you to do the same!

*Editors Note: In the original article, Shelby Larson’s name was spelled incorrectly as Shelly Larson. Design Directions apologizes for the error.

Award Winner Photos