Product design student work to compete internationally
Submissions emphasize simple, innovative, and durable designs in a competition that will award $12,000 from the International Housewares Association to students plus cash prizes to their schools.
Senior Product Design Program students at UO are re-thinking how to turn ordinary housewares into innovative, simple, and durable technologies for a competition that could earn individual students as much as $3,000 plus a cash prize for their school.
The 19th Annual Student Design Competition is sponsored by the International Housewares Association (IHA), which is offering $12,000 in cash prizes alongside media exposure and grants. Winners will be notified January 30.
Product design Assistant Professor John Arndt’s studio focused on human-powered products including hand-cranked ice cream makers, paper shredders, and eggbeaters. The idea of human-powered objects, durability, and sustainability applies to many modern housewares, he says.
“It’s a bit about understanding the things you own around the house,” Arndt says. “Once those mechanical objects break, you throw it away because you don’t know how to fix it. If it’s human powered, instances like that become rarer and that product can last much longer.”
Students in Adjunct Instructor Wonhee Arndt’s class focused on the symbiosis and simplicity of modern houseware appliances. Examples of their work range from toaster ovens to easier-to-clean glass cooking surfaces.
Above: The Modiron, designed by Lauren Mikami, features a widened iron for more surface area coverage, a magnetic water container and an ergonomic handle.
“[Students] think about the relationship between design and function,” Wonhee Arndt says. “When problems arise in their initial ideas, they revise their strategies and go back to reworking how to simplify the function of their product.”
The work by students in Assistant Professor Trygve Faste’s class included researching crafts related to their family heritage. After looking into their cultural background, students created contemporary housewares. From re-inventing a Vietnamese coffee maker to Japanese sushi mats, Faste says his goal of having students execute a design idea into fruition is the main challenge.
“There are always a lot of really good ideas,” says Faste, “but figuring out how to implement them is sometimes difficult; further brainstorming and prototyping is always necessary. One main thing I like to make sure of is that the products are user-friendly. That is, how intuitive their function is for whoever tries it out.”
The contest categories include small electric appliances, personal care and home healthcare, tableware, serving products and accessories, cook and bakeware, cleaning products (brooms, etc.), outdoor products, organization and storage, furniture, decorative accessories, and juvenile and pet products.
Judges consider whether the entries are “necessary and valuable,” whether the product meets competitive products in features and price, and whether the student researched user needs and tested the concept with users. The entries are evaluated based on design, research, and technical skills and presentation.
Top winners will exhibit their concepts at the IHA show March 10-13 at McCormick Place in Chicago.
– Story by Emily Wilson
Above: Kevin Do’s design for making iced Vietnamese sweet coffee.
Above: Rebecca Swofford’s ideation for streamlining vegetable preparation and storage.
Above: Isamu Jarman’s design for a whisk.
Above: Peter Bryner’s design for a compact, transportable desk.
Above: Nathan Schultze’s concept for a laptop bag that doubles as a laptop stand.