Photo of Susan Koloski's desk

Award Funds Furniture Student’s COVID-Friendly Desk


The topsy-turvy world of the coronavirus pandemic has required businesses, educators, workers, and parents to find innovative ways to make everyday life work. And this often means creating a space in the home to accommodate spreadsheets, Zoom meetings, and fifth-grade math lessons.

Buffalo State College wood/furniture major Susan Koloski considered such needs when she designed a collapsible desk this fall. The stylish yet practical desk was an assignment for the Wood Design II course taught by Sunhwa Kim, associate professor and coordinator of the college’s wood/furniture program, which is housed within the Art and Design Department.

Koloski’s innovative design won the department’s Mike Lang Wood/Furniture Studio Award for Excellence in both the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. Koloski received more than $500 worth of lumber from Lang’s company, Trathen Logging Company in York, New York.

“When I started researching solutions for COVID, all the furniture I found was gray, boring, and stale. I wanted the desk to look like a piece of art.”

- Susan Koloski, Buffalo State Wood/Furniture Major

Kim has ordered materials from the company since 2008, when it was previously owned by Chris Miller. Because of the high cost of materials, Kim said, Miller set up the financial award for students in 2011. When Lang took over the company in 2014, he continued providing the award each semester, determining the winner from the preliminary project sketches created by students in Kim’s upper-level courses.

“We’re fortunate that Mike Lang has taken the time to look at students’ sketches, models, and concept statements,” Kim said. “Susan and the other students have been very grateful for his generous support and encouragement. I believe students have learned to appreciate the act of giving and kindness for others from this experience.”

For the fall assignment, Kim said, it only made sense to make it a response to the worldwide crisis.

Koloski said, “When I started researching solutions for COVID, all the furniture I found was gray, boring, and stale. I was originally thinking of a desk for an office, then shifted my focus to people working from home. I wanted the desk to look like a piece of art. I used hinges so that it can fold up and won’t be intrusive when you’re not working.”

The generous donation allowed Koloski to make the largest piece of furniture in her college career. When the desk is unfolded, it stands at 6 feet tall and 5 feet by 2 feet in diameter.

“It was a fun challenge to build something so large,” she said.

Within a month of receiving the materials, Koloski completed the desk.

“Early on, I changed the design a little,” she said, “Mr. Lang was kind enough to provide a little extra lumber to make it work.”

Koloski, who started at Buffalo State as an exceptional education major before discovering her passion for design and hands-on work, expects to graduate in May 2023. She said she hopes to work as a design consultant and eventually own a furniture-making business.

In Kim’s eyes, that is a definite possibility.

“Susan is a very hard worker and a talented and creative student,” Kim said. “I know she has a great future as a professional in the field.”

Photos and slideshow by Bruce Fox, campus photographer.