Carnegie Mellon University
July 11, 2013

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon School of Design Alumna Crafting Successful Career in Furniture Design

Contacts: Pam Wigley / 412-268-1047 /
Renee Caudle / 412-268-4045 /

Inermix DeskPITTSBURGH—Only a few years after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, alumna Amanda Ip has already made her mark in furniture design, from winning contests to selling pieces to major retailers.

Since graduating from CMU's School of Design in 2007, Ip has been on the fast track to success. Her career began at Webb deVlam in Chicago, where she worked on product packaging for brands such as Wrigley and Procter & Gamble. Her current position with Chicago's Slate Design focuses on the design of unique home furnishings. While at Slate, she has seen her designs go from concept to shelf at Crate & Barrel, as well as its related retailer CB2. In fact, her CB2 piece, "The Tucker Laptop Desk," was mentioned in The New York Times as a design that adapts to technology.

Ip's most recent accomplishment was winning the June 2012 Live/Work design contest sponsored by retailer Design Within Reach (DWR) and Dwell Magazine. The contest challenged designers to create a home office piece that combined function and form. Ip created the "Innermix Desk," a large, solid wood workspace with three built-in storage compartments. DWR hopes to produce the "Innermix Desk" before the end of this year.

"It's awesome to get a piece done, and to know that something I've designed will be made," Ip said. "I'm thrilled to have won the contest."

Ip said she always knew she wanted to study design, but didn't know exactly what she wanted to do within the field. CMU's School of Design helped her decide the path she wanted to take.

"I really liked that the program allowed you to explore both sides of design — industrial and communications design — during your freshman year, and then you could decide where to focus."

Ip also credits her School of Design training for shaping her as a designer.

"The program created projects that touched on so many different design elements. All of these projects taught me to see things from different perspectives, and to think about all aspects of design, from ideation to modeling to prototyping and the final product. This has proven so valuable," she said.

She also recoginized the School of Design's faculty and curriculum as critical elements of the internationally recognized program. Wayne Chung, associate design professor, said what separates CMU's program from others is the mindset students build in the area of design, formed from the combination of studio work and class projects.

"The students are concerned with the technical details of a design but are always able to stand back and see the relation to the larger system," Chung said. "From these varied macro and micro viewpoints, they can see where design can be implemented in a conscientious manner and be most effective."

This has proven to be true for Ip, particularly as it related to a furniture class taught by professor Tom Merriman. The class greatly influenced her as a designer.

"Though it lacked the same 'structure' as the other design classes, it was the freedom that allowed me to learn as much as I did," Ip said. "'Design a table,' 'design something to sit on,' 'design a light device.' Those were the parameters for our projects. It made me think about a need and how to fill that need. It allowed me to define my own style, to think about costs and keeping it affordable. It challenged me to figure out its construction and then, of course, to use the tools in the woodshop to actually create it."

Although it was hard work, Ip is grateful for her experience at the School of Design.

"When I look back at college and think of my time at CMU, I couldn't imagine going anywhere else. I don't think I could have asked for a better college experience or education. Despite the hard work and many sleepless nights, I was surrounded by people who had the same passion, curiosity and drive as I did, and it felt like we were all one and the same."


Amanda Ip designed the "Innermix Desk" (pictured above), which won the June 2012 Live/Work design contest, sponsored by retailer Design Within Reach (DWR) and Dwell Magazine, for combining function and form. The desk is a large, solid wood workspace with three built-in storage compartments.