Q&A: Up-and-Coming German Design Student Spends a Semester at Harrington

November 13, 2012 General, Interior Design 0 Comments

Sophia Seipp benchDon’t let her age fool you: 21-year-old Sophia Cassina Seipp has already garnered the attention of European media for her furniture design. A current student of Interior Architecture at the Hochschule für Technik in Stuttgart, Germany, Sophia crossed international borders this past summer semester to study at Harrington College of Design as a non-degree-seeking student.

Enrolled in Conceptual Sketching, Advanced CAD Rendering and Digital Systems and Experimental Design, Sophia honed her craft in furniture design, with projects including creating a stunning chair designed from a 2’x2’ piece of lumber and one other material of her choice. We met with Sophia to find out more on her work in Europe and her experience at our college.

Harrington: Can you tell me about the furniture piece you designed in Germany that has captured the attention of the media? 

Sophia: I actually designed the bench ''S 900 Gesellig'' (see image below) during my free time. With the bench, I wanted to create an opportunity for an individual to have the flexibility to alter the piece depending on what the layout of their room was and how they wanted to communicate with each other. For example, individual bench chair backs can be removed so that people can have direct communication with each other, or they can add the pieces back in to create a separation from a kitchen to a living room.

Sophia Seipp bench

The bench is currently being manufactured in Bavaria and sold in Germany and Switzerland as well as on the Internet through It comes in three different versions: solid wood, solid wood with HPL back and an all-HPL outdoor version. At the furniture fair in Cologne this January, I was honored when my bench was rewarded as winner of the well-respected Interior Innovation Award 2012. 

Harrington: What was your inspiration for your rope chair in Harrington’s Experimental Design class you took this past summer?

Sophia: Part of my inspiration for the rope chair came from Paola Lenti.  During a visit with my father we saw her work area, and it was interesting to see which material she was using and which technique she applied.

Sophia Seipp chair

Harrington: I’m sure studying in America is quite different from your studies in Germany. What was studying at Harrington like?

Sophia: I personally enjoyed my semester abroad at Harrington College of Design very much and believe it greatly enriched my education. During the summer semester, I took Conceptual Sketching in Interior Design with James Smith, Advanced CAD Rendering and Digital Systems with Lucy Trimarco and Experimental Design with Peter Klick. The combination of these classes was perfect for me because it covered everything – sketching, CAD drawing and rendering on the computer plus experimental design, which challenges creativity to design and build new furniture. In particular, I liked the classes and the helpful instructors. In this context I would like to thank Lucy, James and Peter once again for a wonderful semester.  You guys are great!

Sophia’s enthusiasm for furniture, design, shapes and colors started early in her life – her family has been in the furniture business for more than 100 years (check them out at From her father, who selects and buys furniture, to her mother, who is responsible for arts and crafts, design is truly a family affair. Sophia became aware of Harrington College of Design through her godfather and aunt (also in the furniture business) who studied with Harrington Interior Design instructor and program coordinator Peter Klick in Stuttgart. Sophia shared, “Peter often talked with enthusiasm about his role as an instructor here in Chicago. His enthusiasm was contagious, and I felt that I would like studying at Harrington College of Design. Peter has a feeling for the extraordinary things, and already in Zurich he was famous as an interior designer.”

It was certainly exciting to learn about Sophia’s work here and in Germany, and we hope she may return sometime soon to the United States to continue her passion for interior design and furniture design!  Many thanks to Sophia for sharing your story, and we hope you keep in touch!

-Harrington blogger Amber Moore

Photos courtesy of Sophia Seipp

Note: Harrington College of Design does not have a formal program in place for foreign exchange students but does accept applications from degree-seeking international students.


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