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

Winners to Be Showcased at 2019 International Home + Housewares Show, March 2-5, Chicago

ROSEMONT, IL (Feb. 5, 2019)—The safety and security of seniors, children and the disabled in their homes were key issues addressed by winning entries in the International Housewares Association’s 26th annual Student Design Competition.

Purdue University senior Hannah Ferrill from New Lenox, Ill., and National University of Singapore graduate Kevin Chiam Yong Sheng, won first place respectively for HearNoEvil Home Security System for the Hearing Impaired, and Folks Kitchenware for the Blind. Sheng is the first student from a university outside the United States to take the top prize.

The Competition’s challenge to college students is to redesign a current housewares product to meet the needs of the future or to create a concept for a new product. Winning projects are selected for their innovation, understanding of production and marketing principles, and quality of entry materials.

“As a graduating senior, winning this competition means the world to me,” Ferrill said “It will help my career by putting me in contact with a large number of companies and people looking for new designers. I am looking forward to meeting the other student winners at the Show and seeing the design process and skills behind their projects.”

HearNoEvil connects to the household security system through WiFi or Bluetooth and utilizes colored lights that project alerts on the ceiling and a bed shaker to alert the hearing-impaired to intruders, fires and natural disasters. The unit also doubles as a wireless, rechargeable hearing aid station so older users never have to fumble with small batteries at night. Ferrill’s design was inspired by her grandfather who was anxious he wouldn’t be able to hear in times of danger.

“After all the entries were reviewed, HearNoEvil just naturally rose to the top as one of the most complete product concepts submitted,” said Daniel Blake, global designer, team sports, for Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in Chicago, and one of 14 judges in the 2019 Student Design Competition. “It fits current trends in the connected-home market by identifying a product that is easy to use, solves multiple issues, is readily available in terms of technology, and also leaves the opportunity for expansion of product functions. Ferrill’s entry booklet walked us through a complete story of how the concept came to be. From research to 2D development and final models, she painted a clear understanding of why and how this device could deliver life-saving results for individuals that are hard of hearing.”

Folks Kitchenware for the Blind leverages natural, sensory feedback and tactile cues to empower visually impaired individuals to enjoy cooking, while preserving their dignity and self-reliance, Sheng said. His inspiration was Christine Ha, a blind Master Chef in Singapore, as well as his work at an organization that aids underprivileged seniors, several of whom were losing their sight as a result of diabetes. The knife features a retractable guard which serves as a physical anchor, guides the fingers during the cutting process and allows clean-up of the knife with a simple trigger. The set also includes a chopping board with a side tray that acts as an extension of the hand to gather and efficiently transfer ingredients with less spillage, and a teaspoon with an integrated buoy. When placed in a cup of liquids, the floating buoy informs the user of impending contact with liquids and helps lower the risk of scalds or burns. Folks is also safe for children and amateur cooks.

Competition judge Carter Gerard, an industrial designer with Insight Product Development, Chicago, said that Folks Kitchenware for the Blind defined a unique problem within a specific user group and executed a realistic and simple solution. “Through multiple rounds of sketches and prototypes, the designer was able to show his decision-making process for the final design and validate his concept with visually impaired and ‘expert’ users such as an occupational therapist,” Gerard said. “Overall, the judges were confident in the design solution and final impact that this product would have on its intended user group.”

First place winners receive a $2,500 cash prize and an all-expense paid trip to Chicago for the 2019 International Home + Housewares Show, March 2-5. Their winning product concepts may be seen by 60,000 attendees and 2,200 exhibiting companies from more than 145 countries. Joining Ferrill and Sheng are two second- and two third-place winners who will share $5,500 in prize money. The five winning schools will receive grants totaling $3,000.

Altogether, there were 280 entries from 45 schools in the U.S. and 18 other countries. Vicki Matranga, IHA’s design programs coordinator and manager of the Student Design Competition, said, “IHA’s program has become known as the gold standard for college-level competitions. Many U.S. professors – and an increasing number internationally – assign the program annually to industrial design students because it is a real-world exercise and every entry receives feedback from two industry professionals. Students must identify user needs and opportunity spaces in the marketplace, research competitive available products, test models with users and consider production issues.”

Second and Third Place Winners

Second-place awards of $1,750 each went to: Paola Gonzalez, a University of Houston graduate from Houston, for Munch: A Kid’s Educational Cooking Set, and to Andrea Meisner, a University of Wisconsin – Stout senior from New Richmond, Wis., for her Pudge Hot Sandwich Maker for Outdoor Cooking.

Munch is a cooking set that encourages children aged 5 to 10 to be involved in cooking, which has been shown to lead to a healthier lifestyle. When a child selects a tool from the cutting board/storage container, its form reveals visual cues that guide the child to hold it safely and use it properly. Pictograms on the container’s base teach cooking measurements and cutting techniques. Once a child is done with cooking prep, he or she can clean up and return the tool to its puzzle piece holder.

Pudge is an innovative cookware set that integrates compact design, versatility, injury preventative features and user-friendly features to make it safer for families to cook traditional hot sandwiches (pudgie pies) and roast marshmallows over a campfire.

Third-place awards of $1,000 each went to Teaghan Stack, a University of Notre Dame senior from Calgary, Canada, for Brim Garden Bucket Support, and to Jack Judge, a Purdue University senior from West Lafayette, Ind., for Sera Childproof Locking Pill Organizer.

Brim plays to the two-thirds of Baby Boomers who still want a yard or garden regardless of where they live. The stable base attaches to any standard five-gallon bucket and allows those with limited mobility to lean on the bucket for support when standing up from a kneeling position after weeding or doing other yard work. Handles in the base allow the user to easily pour out the bucket’s contents in a controlled and comfortable manner.

A new take on child-resistant containers, Sera addresses the problem of accidental poisoning from medications at home or grandma’s house. The pill organizer features a simple mechanism with two latches that are shielded inside a cavity towards the back. Only adult-length fingers are long enough to reach in and press the buttons simultaneously to open the pill box.

Six Honorable Mentions Awarded

Six students received an honorable mention and a $300 cash award. For the first time ever, honorable mention winners from outside the United States have chosen to attend the Show at their own expense. Mia Dragičević and Sara Dobrijević, juniors at the University of Zagreb (Croatia), will have the opportunity to present their design of Period. Sustainable Sanitary Feminine Hygiene System.

“We found out about the competition on the web and were interested because it included the possibility to design a wide spectrum of products and to deal with real-life problems,” Dragičević said. “We were able to design a product we think is very important in our society, and also we will have the opportunity to visit a different continent to present it, which is a strong affirmation of our hard work and abilities. We look forward to creating connections at the Show – and sightseeing!”

Also receiving an honorable mention were:

  • Mark Dorsey and Vann Knight, Auburn University seniors, Trash Waste Reduction Motivation System
  • Harry Kaloustian, College for Creative Studies sophomore, Resonate Fire Extinguisher
  • Hung Savio Dominic Duong, James Madison University senior, Mariposa Convertible Table
  • Nicholas Azar, University of Notre Dame senior, Handi Sink Access Solutions
  • Eric Yushi Nakassa, University of Washington junior, Seicho Hanging Planter

Judges Laud Contest, Quality of Program

This year’s winners were chosen by a respected jury of 14, including design managers at consumer products companies, a major retailer, design consultants, three educators and four former winners. Altogether, judges spend hundreds of volunteer hours reviewing the submissions, which consist of written materials, sketches, engineering drawings and photos.

“Being recognized in the IHA student competition made a profound impact on me as a young design student,” said Elizabeth Reuter, who won third place as a junior at Purdue University in 2012 and is now a Kenmore category design lead for dishwashers and small kitchen appliances, Sears Holdings Corporation. “It was the first time I felt that, as a designer, my point of view mattered and I could shape the world around me. It gave me confidence in my choice to pursue industrial design and connected me to people who would become close friends and mentors.”

In addition to Blake and Reuter, the jury included: Jennifer Astwood, IDSA, associate professor of industrial design, University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wis.; 2015 winner Evan Cincotta, industrial designer, Casabella – Bradshaw Home, Congers, N.Y.; Chris Cunningham, IDSA, global design director, The Pampered Chef, Addison, Ill.; Nick Huber, design director, MESH01, Woburn, Mass.; Michael Kahwaji, IDSA, senior manager, industrial design, global consumer design, Whirlpool Corporation, Benton Harbor, Mich.; Min Kim, senior industrial designer, Smart Design, New York; 2010 winner Teddy Lu, IDSA, visiting associate professor, Purdue University, Lafayette, Ind.; 1996 winner Jennifer Nemec, principal, Ideation Studio Inc., Chicago; Robert W. Sheldon, IDSA, principal, Product Council Ltd., Chicago; Scott Shim, IDSA, professor of industrial design, department of art, art history & design, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind.; and Patrick Walraven, industrial designer, Hamilton Beach Brands, Glen Ellen, Va.

26 Years of Exceptional Student Design

This is the 26th year that winning design students have been honored at the International Home + Housewares Show, expanding awareness of careers in industrial design among students and highlighting the impact of design on the $364.2 billion global housewares industry. Since the competition began in 1993, more than 5,000 college students have entered, and each has come away with an educational experience that the design profession recognizes as unique.