IHA’s 30th annual Student Design Competition presents products to simplify consumer lives

February 16, 2023 | By RetailME Bureau

Elegant products that simplify consumer lives received top prizes at the International Housewares Association’s (IHA) 30th annual Student Design Competition, the industry’s preeminent student design contest which this year celebrates three decades of innovation for the house and home.

This year’s winners include a breast pump washing basin for moms on the go; a yarn storage system for crafters; a produce keeper and ripener; a plant watering system; a tactile safety system for the visually impaired; and a coffee grounds storage and recycling system.

The winning industrial design students and their products will be on display during The Inspired Home Show 2023, IHA’s global home + housewares marketplace, March 4-7 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. The winners and their products can be viewed on the Show’s website.

The competition challenges college students 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.

Katherine Gaylord, a junior at University of Notre Dame acquired the first place and $3,500 for Stack, a breast pump drying rack for the breast pump pieces. It helps nursing mothers who pump at work or in public restrooms to safely, easily and discreetly wash, dry and store breast pump equipment.

Two students will be honoured with second place awards of $2,300 each: Alicja Ramotowski, a senior from University of Notre Dame for SPIN, a home yarn dispenser and storage solution; and Austin Liebgott, a junior from Appalachian State University for Alma, a produce keeper and ripener.

SPIN utilises an angled trajectory to make the dispensing process of yarn as seamless as possible and works with a variety of differently spun yarns. Additionally, the user can place needles and unfinished projects into the spool of yarn as a simultaneous storage and display piece.

Developed in response to the enormous amount of food waste across the globe, Alma keeps produce fresh while simultaneously being eco-friendly by reducing consumption and lowering consumers’ carbon footprint. Alma refrigerates produce without the use of electricity and expedites the ripening process so fresh produce can be enjoyed when desired.

Three students will share the third place, and each will receive a $1,000 prize. Planted, by Aiden C. Schutte, junior at Western Michigan University, helps inexperienced or time-crunched plant owners maintain healthy plants and a desired aesthetic in the home. Water gets to the soil by penetrating through a hole at the bottom of the planter, which allows the plant to drink as much as it needs without overwatering.

Chi, by Charlotte Brittain, senior at the Cleveland Institute of Art, is a tactile safety system for the visually impaired, providing invisible hazard awareness. The system of wearable sensory devices consists of a visual sensor, vibrating feedback units, a digital data hub and charging home. Chi helps the visually impaired identify overhead hazards that cannot be detected by the traditional white cane. This cutting-edge technology also shows promise in the advancement of assistive technology.

GROUND from Augustine Curran-Muñoz, a Purdue University senior, is a coffee grounds storage system that promotes recycling of used grounds by storing and heat-treating them for future fertilizer use. GROUND heat-treats the coffee grounds passively in a dedicated storage capsule and compresses the grounds when ready into compact fertilizer pucks, saving greatly on storage space.

Six projects merited an honourable mention and their designers and will receive $250 each:

  • Ian Allard, junior at Kendall College of Art and Design, for circL – assisted composter.
  • Haleigh Esene, senior at University of Houston, for Knot, a re-designed kettlebell.
  • Sydney Florine, senior at University of Notre Dame, for tube, a bird feeder for senior-citizens.
  • Yuanxiang E Huang, junior at Western Washington University, for Sol, a sunrise alarm.
  • Anna Lorino, junior at Western Michigan University, for SafeSteam, a steam iron for people with visual impairments.
  • Ray McVicker, junior at Western Washington University, for Glo Charcoal Grill.

Meanwhile, 70 finalists for IHA Global Innovations Awards (gia) for product design have been announced as well. Global honorees in each of 14 categories will be announced during the invitation-only gia dinner Saturday, March 4 during The Inspired Home Show 2023, IHA’s Global Home + Housewares Market, at Chicago’s McCormick Place Complex.

In addition, the Housewares Charity Foundation will honour three industry philanthropists – including Bloomingdale’s Daniel Leppo; Select Brands’ William Endres; and The Home Edit’s Clea Shearer – during the 2023 annual Housewares Cares Charity Gala.



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