Grant Keeney, May graduate (B.F.A. in Furniture Design), went for playability and style in herron_posterhis designs when Brunswick Billiards asked for a new approach to table tennis. The purveyor of home game room products came back to Herron on the heels of its successful 2014 venture through the Basile Center for Art, Design and Public Life to create version six of the iconic Gold Crown billiards table. The winning design, by Colin Tury (M.F.A. in Furniture Design, ’14), is slated for production in 2017.

Keeney’s two concepts wowed Brunswick with their angles, clean lines and Mid-Century forms. “The legs fold up and the table folds in half, but you won’t want to put it away,” Keeney said, as he presented his prototype of the extruded aluminum “CL-1” table with soft-close accessory drawers for stowing the net, paddles and balls. His second design, the “Cornerstone,” features 360 degree pivoting casters built into the legs, and a low-slung, arched base. “There’s nothing out there like it close to this price point,” he said. “These designs target Millennials and everyone else.”

In addition to Herron faculty members, Brunswick representatives Brent Hutton (B.A. ’79 Bloomington), LifeFitness vice president of global consumer sales; John Kazik, vice president of business development; and Greg Tennis, manufacturing and sourcing engineer, were on hand for the April presentations from the six students who took on the challenge. Eighteen students had attended a March call for proposals where Hutton described the project in detail and called on them to bring their creativity to bear.

Brunswick also chose designs by seniors Ben Sallee and Vance Wilson as second and third place winners. The finalists earned $1,500, $1,000 and $500 awards, respectively, and each student who presented earned a stipend for their materials and time.

Cory Robinson, chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Herron, said, “For fine art and design students this kind of project is gold. Real professional practice that comes from working with an established company like Brunswick is not the same as a simulation.”

For this project, the school again brought in special expertise from Glen Fuller, who ran a customized class for the students who created designs for Brunswick. “Glen brings work experience as a professional industrial designer. He’s coming from a place of authority and put the students through their paces conducting in-depth market research on trends and competition in the leisure sports industry,” Robinson said.

Robinson encourages businesses that want to partner with Herron to begin the conversation well in advance. “The ideal situation is for us to accept a new project in the spring semester, so that we can use the summer to work on it as well, and then complete the assignment and present in the fall,” he said. “The businesses that partner with us seem very pleased and energized by the experience. They are learning something new, too.”

Furniture Design graduate students imagine a new version of Brunswick Billiard’s most iconic pool table

UntitledBrunswick Billiards President Brent Hutton approached Herron School of Art and Design to connect with the talented faculty and students in its Furniture Design Program. The task? To reimagine the Gold Crown pool table for its sixth edition. The Gold Crown is Brunswick’s most iconic table—preferred by the pros and tapped by Hollywood to serve as the centerpiece of such classic movies as The Color of Money and The Hustler.

Through the school’s Basile Center for Art, Design and Public Life, 11 furniture design graduate students got the chance to create a new version. The Basile Center pairs Herron students and faculty with real client projects. Everyone involved gets an education in the process.

Brunswick views pool as a more than a game. Each pool table is a finely crafted piece of furniture, so the pairing was perfect.

Over the years, Hutton’s exposure to Herron as a Bedford, Indiana native and an alumnus of Indiana University has made a favorable impression. He has spent lunches between business meetings in Indianapolis at Herron, looking at student work. “The thing I remembered most is the freshness of the ideas,” he said. “I really did not see that anywhere else, and at the time I was traveling to New York and Chicago.

“The fit for me,” Hutton continued, “was, unlike an industrial design school, this was studio design, and I thought leading edge in terms of art and thinking.” Hutton considered the leap he was about to take working with students. “It was a risk we took,” he said, “but I tell you, it could not have worked out any better.”

Guided by faculty members Cory Robinson, Katie Hudnall and Glen Fuller, a detailed specification provided by Brunswick and their own research, the students had the opportunity to work on a project that would have been an exhilarating and challenging assignment for a seasoned professional—refreshing the Gold Crown’s appeal to a tech culture and a female audience while retaining its iconic brand attributes.

At the end of June, three finalists remained; Sam Ladwig, Shelley Spicuzza and Colin Tury. When the designs were presented to a gathering of Brunswick Billiards’ top retailers, they met with an enthusiastic response. The students will gain more than a hefty notch on their belts; the first place designer wins an award of $2,500, and the two honorable mention designers will walk away with $500 each. A decision about which design goes into production is expected later this summer. We’ll keep Herronline readers updated as this story develops. To hear an interview with the finalists produced by James Gray of WFIU radio, click here.