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In its 19th year, the Student Design Competition sponsored by the International Home and Housewares Show announced this year's winning product designs from students representing institutions from around the country. The design competition's annual challenge to students is to redesign a current housewares product to meet the needs of the future or to create a concept for a new product. Winning projects are selected for their innovation, understanding of production and marketing principles and quality of entry materials.
Winning first place in this year's competition is Samuel Chen (Junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) for his "Cyclone" kitchen fire extinguisher and Mariel Piña (Senior at the University of Houston) for her "Ambos" grater/colander.
Chen's "Cyclone" is a first response product that helps put out kitchen fires utilizing a homemade solution of vinegar and baking soda. The design is stainless steel—elegant enough to sit in a tool tub on the kitchen counter or hang from a hook. Twisting the utensil's valve mixes the solution to spray a carbon dioxide foam. Because common kitchen ingredients are used, the tool can be used repeatedly unlike typical single-use products filled with hazardous propellants. "My product was sparked from the personal experience of a fire in my kitchen," Chen said. "Recognizing the panic and stress involved, I researched fires and designed an extinguisher to eliminate them in the most time and cost efficient way, keeping in mind an aesthetic and pragmatic design."
Piña's "Ambos" merges the function of a cheese/food grater and a colander into one product. Safe and ergonomic, her design is convenient for storage and reduces kitchen clutter. The lower center of gravity for the grater makes the "Ambos" more comfortable and stable. "My goal is to reconnect the user with the pleasures of simple living," Piña said. "Making an experience like grating cheese easy and enjoyable brings us back to basics. I also want to reduce the clutter in the home that prevents us from encountering life fully and wholeheartedly, so we can focus on simple tasks like cooking our own food."
Second place is awarded to two medical design products: Patrick Fiori (Junior, Purdue University) for the "Heart Start" infant CPR assist and Jeannette Ralyea (Senior, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design) for her Visio wall guides for the visually impaired.
"Heart Start" assists first responders in administering CPR on infants, a delicate task usually difficult to perform properly. Easy to use even for the inexperienced, it presents a series of instructions with multi-sensory feedback guiding correct compression depth and rate, as well as indicating safe positioning on the baby's chest. The user-friendly, low-cost design also provides a more ergonomic hand position, allowing for greater rescuer stamina and ultimately greater chance of victim survival.
Visio is a family of three products designed to serve as wall guides for the visually impaired. The circular rubber shapes, similar to a bull's eye target, enlarge wall functions and reassure people afflicted with conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. The Capta directs a user's hand in plugging a cord into an electrical outlet, Luma leads fingers to a light switch, and Sera's form helps a person insert a key into a lock. The products were developed in collaboration with two other students, Sylvine Derre and Julian Lois, while Ralyea was an exchange student at the École de Design Nantes Atlantiques. The trio studied the needs of users who were members of an organization for the blind in Nantes, France.
Third place winners are Alex Broerman (Senior, University of Cincinnati) for the "Slivr" home meat slicer and Elizabeth Reuter (Junior, Purdue University) for the "PoshPaw" pet nail clippers.
Broerman's design for the Slivr Home Meat Slicer is safer, as well as easier to use, clean and store, than traditional electric meat slicers for the home.
Reuter's PoshPaw Pet Nail Clippers would help owners gain control over a rambunctious dog, and position the nail cutter in the proper place so the animal would not be injured from an incorrect cut.
Honorable Mentions go to:
» Richard Beien, Edge Adjustable Cane, Purdue University junior
» Jennifer Clark, Leverage Door Knob Lever, The Ohio State University junior
» Laura Cioffi, Beck Cutting Board with Measuring Flute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign junior
» Michael MacLean, Safe Step Ladder, The Ohio State University junior
» Breanna Stachowski, Winturn Ergonomic Snow Shovel Handle, University of Notre Dame senior
» Evan Trickey, ZipCord, The Ohio State University junior from Monroe, Mich.
» Michael Young, The X-Zip Cord System, Columbus College of Art & Design senior
» Kevin Wu, Tilta Garden Cart, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign senior
This year's competition garnered over 200 entries from 21 schools around the country. Student winners not only receive cash prizes for themselves and their schools, but more importantly, an all-expense paid trip to this year's International Home + Housewares Show to display their designs. The winning product prototypes and their creators will take center stage in the Housewares Design Center at the 2012 International Home + Housewares Show. Stay tuned as we report live from the floor March 10-13 at McCormick Place in Chicago.