Teddy Lu

Teddy Lu, IDSA | 2010 IDSA Midwest District Student Merit Winner | University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Teddy Lu, IDSA, is no stranger to the winner’s circle. He took first place in the 2010 International Housewares Association (IHA) student design competition with a design that also helped him claim an IDSA Student Merit Award. The Tub Tub is a mobile multifunctional baby tub that has a much longer lifecycle than the average baby tub. “I never really interacted with kids much,” said Lu. “In talking to parents, I was surprised by how many products they buy, how much they’re willing to spend and how much overlap there is among baby products.”

During his research, Lu spotted an opportunity to create one product that could provide a number of logical, related solutions for parents and their young children. The tub he designed can also be used as a seat for the parent, a stool for the growing child and storage unit for toys. “It has a projected lifespan of four years versus three to six months for a standard tub,” Lu said.

TubTub While this recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign works with potential buyers to commercialize Tub Tub, Lu points to another project he is particularly proud of that underscores his design aspirations. Firefighters wear an SCBA harness to aid breathing while moving through burning buildings. While the harness is intended to help keep them alive, it often creates serious hazards for firefighters. “I went through the same training the firefighters go through,” Lu said. “My tank got stuck when I was crawling on the floor through a burning building. That’s so common that firefighters are actually trained how to respond when their tank gets stuck.” The tanks can also be scratched or damaged easily thereby reducing the life of the product. 

To address both problems, Lu designed The Guardian, which features a shell that protects the tank and covers the gap that usually exists between the harness and the tank—that gap is most likely to cause a firefighter to get stuck.

Lu revealed some of the passion that helped shape The Guardian, “It’s so rewarding to hear people say that something I designed made an impact or saved a life. I don’t think of myself as a great designer, I just work really, really hard,” he said. “I like to go into a place, find out lots of stuff from strangers, take what people are saying and turn into a nice product.” Ultimately, Lu dreams of opening a consultancy that does design work that will positively impact the world.

Teddy Lu can be reached via teddylu924@gmail.com.