The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show

March 2–4, 2025 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show
March 2—4 | 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 31st year, IHA’s competition is unique in the U.S. as the longest-running, industry-sponsored, merit-recognition program for industrial design students.

For more information on the gia Student Design Competition, please contact Tina Genualdi.

Meet the 2024 Winners!

Description & Comments

SONA provides a faster, safer and more controlled method to thaw your frozen meats, poultry or fish with the use of ultrasound assisted technology. SONA works by sending out high-frequency sound waves above the human hearing spectrum known as ultrasound. These sound waves create tiny vibrations in the frozen food item. As the vibrations travel through the frozen item, they generate heat; this heat gradually thaws and melts the ice crystals. What makes ultrasonic thawing better than the more traditional methods is its ability to thaw uniformly and quickly while being very energy efficient. Ultrasound has been used and known since the 1960s but only recently has been tested for its thawing capabilities.

Judges’ Comments:

  • High design
  • Technology could work, well-researched
  • Very pleasing and understandable design presentation
Description & Comments

Ease is a dual-purpose lamp intended to bring the simplistic and medical-inspired light therapy market into a whole new view. The lamp consists of a charging base and therapy light that can easily be brought into any space. The shade uses existing technology currently applied in the market. A high-lumen LED strip is placed on the edge of the inside of the light with a reflective plastic sheet underneath. A thicker piece of plastic with small white dots is placed on top of that to help disburse the light evenly across the opaque/frosted plastic shade. The base of the lamp uses a USB-C connection to a wall outlet to power itself. The lamp is controlled by a single knob to turn on/off as well as adjust the light intensity. The wireless lamp allows users to bring their therapy anywhere. Ease brings a new, more comfortable flow to a user's SAD treatment. One that is designed to reflect them.

Judges’ Comments:

  • Solves an important topic
  • The research is valid and appeals to a large population
  • Excellent visual communication and very thoughtful design language
Description & Comments

Wobble brings plant life into typically boring environments, such as office or studio spaces, while also serving as a fidget toy for the user. Wobble can help reduce stress as well as build a better relationship between you and your plant.

Judges’ Comments:

  • Design intent was executed very well
  • So simple, but effective
  • Smart way to approach materials
Description & Comments

Swishy provides a simple and entertaining way for children to visualize their mouths as they brush their teeth. Children watch Swishy’s lights change color to signify where they should brush next, ensuring they reach every side of every tooth. Children aged 3 through 6 have not yet honed in on their ability to remain on task, weigh cause and effect or think abstractly. Thus, Swishy not only helps children improve their dental hygiene, but it allows parents to take a step back and, like their child, build self-sufficiency.

Judges’ comments:

  • Great process, lovely layout, compelling solution
  • Good ideation
  • Wonderful observational research
Description & Comments

Rain Recyle is a rain funnel that captures rainfall and diverts it directly into a storage tank below. Homeowners, especially urban dwellers, do not have a way to capture or store rainwater.

Judges’ Comments:

  • Clean clear and direct
  • Brilliant take on a hidden user need
  • Simplicity of design shows tremendous sensitivity to manufacturing requirements and needs of the user
Description & Comments

Home-based workshops often do not have the required amount of air filtration needed to render the air quality fit for users. The Mode is the quintessential air-quality appliance for home-workshop users who value space and accessibility. Its functionality allows it to provide air filtration with vacuuming capabilities. The product runs passively as a particulate extractor while the vacuum function is not in use. This is possible through its uniquely designed intake.

Judges’ Comments:

  • Nice idea and presentation
  • Slick mood board
  • Packaging was excellent

Honorable Mentions

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

ometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen>

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 Our 2024 Judges

Judith Anderson

Industrial Design Professor
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Boston, MA

Evan Cincotta

Industrial Designer
New York, NY

Chris Cunningham, IDSA

Cunningham Design
Chicago, IL

Michael Ditullo

Independent Designer
Portland, OR

Robert Giacolo

New Product Development Program Manager
Naperville, IL

Jacob Greider

Industrial Designer
Honey-Can-Do International
Chicago, IL

Carly Hagins, IDSA

Assistant Professor of Product Design
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY

Michael Kahwaji

Professional Specialist of Design Practice
Richmond Institute of Design and Innovation at Western Michigan
Kalamazoo, MI

Mark Krasne

Product Design & Development
Select Brands
Lenexa, Kansas

Carter McGuyer

Principal & Founder
Carter McGuyer Design Group, Inc.
Florence, Alabama

Anastasia Miller

Small Moves Studio
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 Seskauskas

Visiting Instructor of Industrial Design
University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, IL

Rusty Snell

Design Director
Cleveland, Ohio

Radu Ghiorghie

VP of Design, Engineering and Product Development
Cleveland, Ohio