November 9, 2021 College “Disrupts” International Fair

Disruption is not a bad thing. When it’s applied to a stubborn or outdated belief, disruption is a welcome state. One such myth is that industry and academia cannot—or should not—partner. In 2020, our college debunked the myth, and in November 2021, we and partners will be describing the successful arrangement on an international stage.


Panel Discussion

On Nov. 14, our college along with partners Gensler and Local Motors will present a panel discussion at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City. ICFF is “North America’s leading platform for contemporary furnishing design…for an audience of 10,000 architects, interior designers, retailers, distributors, developers and others,” according to the ICFF website. The presentation will take place at 3 p.m. at Javits Center.

In 2020, we and Gensler partnered in a highly successful research studio. Led by Asst. Professor and Robin Klehr Avia Professor of Interior Architecture Rana Abudayyeh, students from our School of Architecture and School of Interior Architecture worked alongside a team of professionals from several of Gensler’s offices across the country, led by Jordan Goldstein, Gensler’s Global Director of Design and Principal. Together, the group investigated the future of the American city, using four cities as precedents: Detroit, Miami, Los Angeles and New York. This unique collaboration will be a main focus of the panel discussion.

Also featured in the presentation is a partnership with Local Motors. Together, we created and fabricated a two-two factory centerpiece using parametric design, large-scale additive manufacturing and 3D printing at an architectural scale. Led by Distinguished Lecturer James Rose and graduate assistant Kristia Bravo, the project could only have been accomplished through such a unique partnership.

These partnerships and others prove that academia and the industry can, indeed, disrupt the status quo and partner in a mutually beneficial arrangement.

The story of this disruption will be presented as an ICFF Talk by panelists Abudayyeh, Goldstein, Rose, Dean Emeritus Scott Poole and Director, Technical Product and Marketing for Local Motors Johnny Scotello. The presentation will be moderated by Phil Robinson, show director of ICFF.

Read more about the research studio in the ICFF 2020 feature, and the book published by Gensler and UT.

rendering of ICFF exhibit


To visually demonstrate the value and success of university/profession partnerships, the college and partners also will exhibit at ICFF. The exhibit, which is 20’ long, can be visited in the Javits Center and will feature a full-size section of the two-ton Local Motors’s centerpiece. We thank exhibit sponsors, Gensler, Local Motors, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Shaw Floors, George Ewart Architect and Emerald.