IDSA Members on Top in Record-Breaking Housewares Design Competition

The first place winner of the 23rd annual Student Design Competition sponsored by the International Housewares Association (IHA) is an IDSA Student Member. The judges unanimously chose Christopher Crowley, S/IDSA, a Virginia  Tech senior, as the first-place winner for his “excellent concept” of the Only Paint Brush—a simple-to-clean, easy-to-store painting tool with an ergonomic grip designed to be held several ways. Users can fan out the bristles to rinse hard-to-reach areas, while a built-in cap protects the brush between painting projects.

The idea came to Crowley when he saw a painter’s brushes wrapped in plastic. “That’s when I thought of designing a paintbrush that could include a cap seamlessly into its form. This could provide protection for the bristles, as well as an airtight seal, in case the painter wanted to take a break without fear of paint drying on the brush.”

Along with a $3,000 cash prize, Crowley receives an all-expenses paid trip March 5-9 to Chicago for the 2016 International Home + Housewares Show, which is expected to draw up to 62,000 attendees and more than 2,200 exhibiting companies from 100 plus countries. This is the 23rd year that student winners will be honored at the show, expanding awareness of careers in industrial design and highlighting the impact of design on the $314.3 billion global housewares industry.

Entrants redesigned a current product to meet the needs of the future, or created a concept for a new product. 2016 entries jumped 25 percent from last year. 5,000 students have participated since the competition began in 1993.

Vicki Matranga, H/IDSA, heads IHA’s design programs and services and manages the competition. “IHA’s program has become known as the gold standard for college-level competitions," she says. "Many US professors assign the program annually to industrial design students because it's a real-world exercise. Students must identify user needs and opportunity spaces in the marketplace, research competitive available products, test models with users and consider production issues.”

Second place winners are the Nomad modular furniture system, which can be used as a storage box or reassembled into a desk set or shelving unit, and Swing—a lightweight, multifunctional tool that helps people clean floors and stairs without bending and risking lower-back injury.

An IDSA Student Member won a third place award. Jean Paul Pompeo, S/IDSA, a junior at The Ohio State University, designed Lean-It Ladder to help people reach the highest areas in the kitchen without risk of injury. Other third place winning entries are Trimm coffee table and lounge chairs and Aurora air purifier.

Honorable mentions have been awarded to 10 students; five of them are IDSA Student Members:

  • Alyssa Mellett, S/IDSA, Georgia Institute of Technology senior: AVA humidifier
  • Eugenia Lee, S/IDSA, Purdue University senior: Tripcat disposable travel cat litter box
  • Caterina Rizzoni, S/IDSA, The Ohio State University junior: Safesling hip dysplasia sling system
  • Ashley Fenton, S/IDSA, The Ohio State University junior: Rootlet outlet plug safety holder
  • Myrna Lefke Lewis, S/IDSA, The Ohio State University junior: Cool Down spectator gear/seating cooler cart

In the blind judging process, judges reviewed entrants’ written materials, sketches, engineering drawings and photos. “This competition is a great equalizer,” says first-time judge Sarah O’Brien, IDSA, who earned honorable mention in 2006 and first place in 200 and went on to become a lead designer at Kohler. Other IDSA members on the jury included:

“There is no shortage of observant students who identify unique problems and show off clever, elegant ways to solve those problems,” says Werner. “The well of talent in the schools that send students our way is deep, and it’s exciting to see these people demonstrate that their ideas work as feasible products.”