The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show

March 16–19, 2024 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show
March 16—19 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

gia Excellence in Student Design

Global Innovation Awards (gia)

Excellence in Student Design

The IHA created its Student Design Competition in 1993 to invigorate the housewares industry with the fresh ideas of top student designers and to encourage young talent to consider careers in the housewares business. Now in its 30th year, IHA’s competition is unique in the U.S. as the longest-running, industry-sponsored, merit-recognition program for industrial design students.

Sponsored by

IHA Student Design Competition

At The Inspired Home Show’s annual student competition display, the six winning student designers meet business leaders and news media. Many past winners have been hired by IHA member companies, and home goods retailers; others have become entrepreneurs, educators and design managers for consumer products companies.

Meet the 2023 Winners!

Description & Comments

Stack creates a simple solution for cleaning and storing breast pump pieces while in a public workspace. It involves a simple utilization of three key components to create both a basin and drying rack for the breast pump pieces. Stack solves the issue of washing in a dirty, public sink and creates an easy, discreet way to wash and store the pieces. While fixing the issue of washing, it also provides a solution for the drying process after.

Judges’ Comments:

  • Takes something complex and makes it an all-integrated product
  • An elegant solution to the complications and chaos that often come with breast milk pumping products
  • Visually beautiful, calming, inviting and a great example of human-centered innovation
Description & Comments

SPIN is a home piece yarn dispenser and storage solution. The product utilizes an angled trajectory to make the dispensing process as seamless as possible and works with a variety of differently spun yarns. Additionally, when done knitting, the user can place needles and unfinished projects into the spool of yarn as a simultaneous storage and display piece.

Judges’ Comments:

  • Works on its own, is easy for anyone of any age to use and has a tasteful design.
  • Passive and effective product for keeping yarn in one place and unraveling smoothly
  • Presentation is graphically clean and makes it easy to follow through the design process
Description & Comments

Alma was developed in response to the enormous amount of food that is wasted each day across the globe due to spoilage. Its mission is to reduce food waste while simultaneously being an eco-friendly product that helps the user practice reduced buying habits and lower their carbon footprint. Alma refrigerates produce without the use of electricity and expedites the ripening process of fresh produce so it can be enjoyed when desired.

Judges’ Comments:

  • Product is pushing innovation
  • Uses attractive packaging that makes it easy to shop for in a retail setting
  • Product addresses the larger problem of food waste along with the various needs of produce.
Description & Comments

This product aids in the watering process for house plants, helping inexperienced or time-crunched plant owners keep plants healthy while keeping their desired aesthetic. The water gets to the soil by penetrating through a hole at the bottom of the pot. This allows the plant to drink as much as it needs without overwatering the plant.

Judges’ comments:

  • Unique solution
  • Comprehensive presentation tells the story of how product addresses a user need and developed a solution
  • In-depth research and testing, paired with excellent design and form studies leads to an attractive, functional solution
Description & Comments

Chi is a tactile safety system for visual assistance providing invisible hazard awareness. It’s a system of wearable sensory devices for the visually impaired, consisting of a visual sensor, vibrating feedback units, a digital data hub and charging home. Chi solves the problem of overhead hazards not easily detected by someone's poor vision or traditional white cane. Ultimately, this cutting-edge technology is super useful in the advancement of assistive technology. Chi can create independence for users while remaining cost friendly.

Judges’ Comments:

  • Smart technology, assists and helps rather than takes away
  • Conceptual haptic and LiDAR-based design enables users to be made aware of even more of their surroundings without calling attention to them or requiring additional use of a cumbersome apparatus
  • A solution that is meant to add to the tools they already use
Description & Comments

Ground is a coffee grounds storage system that promotes recycling of used grounds by storing and heat-treating them for future fertilizer use. Untreated coffee grounds are arduous to treat (normally baked in the oven or left outside to dry) and can take up large amounts of space in makeshift containers when stored. 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.

Judges’ Comments:

  • Holistically designed system that nods to sustainable design and prestige simplicity
  • Clever concept that is simple and well-researched
  • Great example of designing for waste to worth

Honorable Mentions

Meet the 2022 Winners!

Description & Comments

WAVE updates the traditional breadbox with new technology to preserve bread and reduce food waste. Its germicidal UV-C light sterilizes pathogens on bread surfaces to prevent mold and eliminates the need for plastic packaging.  The aluminum liner reflects UV-C light across the entire bread surface and cleans easily with a damp cloth. A magnetic contact sensor on the door safely shuts off the light when the door opens. The convenient pull-out wooden cutting board catches crumbs for easy disposal. 

Judges’ Comments:

  • Responds to trends in home baking and concerns about food waste
  • Research tested functionality and appropriate materials
  • Excellent presentation includes clear research findings and visuals
Description & Comments

Osmo stores fruits and vegetables within reach on the countertop, averting spoilage of produce forgotten in the refrigerator. Osmo preserves food using no electricity or chemical refrigerants. The device passively evaporates water through the porous surface of its ceramic container, keeping food fresh and cool. The user refills the internal reservoir as needed by pouring water onto the lid of the unit. Designed for cyclical disassembly and reuse, Osmo is made of just three materials.

Judges’ Comments:

  • Encourages healthy eating habits, addresses food waste reduction and sustainability
  • Extensive research into passive cooling methods in world cultures
  • Engaging presentation with unique illustrations of problem statement, research and testing
Description & Comments

RUFUS engages the user to assemble, maintain and repair the rotary-drive food mixer to lengthen its life span and reduce e-waste. The holistic experience includes informative, reusable packaging, a printed manual and online resources to support the user relationship. Instructions for assembly, repair and maintenance are embedded in the housing’s interior, tools are stored inside the wooden handle and maintenance supplies are provided. Easy access to a repair network links experienced older service mentors with young environmentally conscious owners.

Judges’ comments:

  • Responds to DIY interests in manual rather than digital experiences
  • Outstanding research on electronic waste, sustainable materials and manufacturing
  • Beautiful presentation with impactful images and well-produced video
Description & Comments

, a portable alternative to an electric kettle, allows the user to boil a cup of water for tea or reheat beverages with a safe and attractive immersible heater. The cord-free heating element, powered by an Ultra-Fast Carbon Electrode battery, can heat multiple beverages on a single charge. The handheld device features a power button to prevent accidental activation and a heat cover to protect the user. The charging base also functions as a cooling stand.

Judges’ comments:

  • Extensive research and heat/weight testing; inventive form exploration
  • Investigates application of innovative new technology
  • Clean, simple presentation; well-done renderings and models
Description & Comments

Pip the Potty Pal assists adults in toilet training toddlers while making potty breaks fun for children. Pip’s timer reminds children to use the potty and helps adults keep track of the child’s bathroom schedule. To encourage and reward a successful potty break the parent may allow the child to watch a video on Pip’s YouTube channel. Made of recyclable and easy-clean polypropylene, Pip is rust resistant and its internal components are protected against contact with water.

Judges’ comments:

  • Sensitive observational research and prototype testing with caregivers and children
  • Appealing, ergonomic forms for adult and toddler hands
  • Clever entertainment reward motivates the child and enhances experience
Description & Comments

Gro is a self-supporting herb planter system that absorbs moisture from the atmosphere. Gro’s three parts—planter pods, moisture units and base plate—are made from hemp-based bioplastic. The sliding door mechanism in the pods allow for easy access and contain the soil. Gro enlivens unused kitchen space; mounted under a cabinet, the base plate plugs into a standard outlet to power the moisture control system and a light that alerts the user if watering is needed. 

Judges’ comments:

  • Clever and bold addition to the market
  • Innovative 3D printed functional models tested mechanics and engaged users
  • Detailed presentation with clear narrative and beautiful renderings

Honorable Mentions

Meet Our 2023 Judges

Amanda Bolton

Senior Innovation Designer
Procter & Gamble
Cincinnati, Ohio

Evan Cincotta

Head of Design
New York, NY

Chris Cunningham, IDSA

Cunningham Design
Chicago, IL

Yashodhan Dhuru

Senior Design Director
Procter & Gamble
Cincinnati, Ohio

Robert Giacolo

New Product Development Program Manager
Naperville, IL

Carly Hagins, IDSA

Associate Professor of Product Design,
Western Michigan University,
Kalamazoo, MI

Teddy Lu, IDSA

Creative Director
Chicago, IL

Anastasia Miller

Doris Dev
Senior Industrial Designer
Brooklyn NY

Jennifer Nemec

Principal, Founder
Ideation Studio Inc.
Chicago, IL

David Richter-O’Connell, IDSA

Assistant Professor Industrial Design
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Menomonie, WI

Kimberlee Wilkens, IDSA

Director, BDes in Industrial Design
Assistant Professor, Industrial Design
University of Illinois at Chicago

James Rudolph

Co-Founder, Program Manager
Rudolph Design Studio
St. Joseph, MI

Michael Patton

Design Manager, Home & Wellness
Newell Brands
Kalamazoo, MI

Kyra Wilsonhouck

Design Director
Procter & Gamble
Cincinnati, Ohio